Hancock Legion settles for split

HANCOCK – Both teams at the end of long weeks, Ishpeming dug deep enough for game two of an American Legion baseball doubleheader against Hancock Post 186 at Hancock Driving Park Sunday, winning 4-2.

The hosts had claimed their piece of the action and then some in the opener, with Hancock sweeping to a 10-0 victory in six innings.

“It was a long weekend, but a good chance to see some different guys on the mound,” Hancock manager Nels Paul said.

The teams met last Sunday in Ishpeming. In between Ishpeming played single games against Marquette, Channing and Gladstone, while Hancock and Gladstone played a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the Driving Park (see related story on page 3B).

After getting a strong complete-game shutout from Brady Turner in the first game, Hancock had kept Ishpeming off the board and held a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning of game two. Pitcher Alex VanWagner got into trouble and Paul went to fireballer Tyler LaDuron to get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam but Dan Brown singled to left to tie the game.

LaDuron had pitched the opener Saturday, so Paul went back into his lineup card for the sixth for Brad Juntunen. Another bases-loaded, one-out jam developed, and again Ishpeming got the big hit, this time from Josh Richards, for a 4-2 lead.

Paul pointed to Hancock’s bats, which missed several opportunities. The hosts had the bases loaded and one out in both the third and fourth innings and failed to generate more runs.

“Really, it wasn’t the pitching. It was more our hitting, the top of the lineup, our guys didn’t produce,” he said.

Blue Storm manager Brian Fisher pointed to the mental game. Ishpeming players had been hard on themselves several times over defensive mistakes, but once they started having success, it multiplied.

“They’re a much better ballteam that what they’ve been showing … They’re so worried about making an error that they’re not playing.”

Hancock had another shot in the bottom of the sixth after Juntunen and Gabe Rupright drew walks off Ishpeming reliever Tyrus Millimaki, who had thrown four innings in game one. Fisher brought in Noah Olgren from centerfield and he struck out Troy Kinnunen and got VanWagner to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the threat. He then retired Hancock in order to finish the game.

Teams are playing three league games against each Mid-Pen league opponent, so the two games in Ishpeming (which the teams split) and game one Sunday counted in league play.

Millimaki was winning pitcher in relief of starter Jake Richards, throwing 2 1/3 innings. He allowed no hits but walked four.

Olgren was the only Ishpeming player with multiple hits, going 2-for-4.

Juntunen took the loss. Hancock had only three hits in game two, two of which didn’t leave the infield, none coming after the third inning.

It went much better for Hancock in the opener. The hosts scored in every inning but the fourth and got a two-hitter from Turner, ending the contest a half-inning early.

VanWagner, Cole Jepsen and Turner had two hits apiece.

LaDuron hit an RBI double to open the scoring in the first. Beau Dupuis doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the second before VanWagner drove in Justin Ruotsala with a sacrifice fly.

Kinnunen’s two-out bloop single scored LaDuron and Ruotsala for a 5-0 lead in the third. VanWagner had a two-RBI single in the fifth and Turner finished off his own game with an RBI single in the sixth.

Turner dazzled on the mound, striking out seven to go with four walks and carrying a no-hitter into the fifth, until Jake Richards singled.

“He has good velocity, changes his speeds well, kept the ball down and was picking his spots really well,” Paul said.

Millimaki took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and five walks in four innings. He struck out one.

Hancock (6-6, 4-5 Mid-Pen League) plays Wednesday night at Channing.