Partly BlueSky with Stanton thunderstorms
STANTON – After nine innings of baseball Tuesday night, Stanton and BlueSky Health both won, and yet neither did.
Indeed, it was a strange night of Twilight League play in Stanton, with two innings to complete from a suspended game 10 days earlier, before another full seven-inning game.
Ultimately, both teams cancelled each other out with a one-run win apiece. Neither team led by more than two runs at any point during the evening.
Stanton, which entered the day with a 4-3 lead after the teams’ June 1 game in Dollar Bay was called due to rain, capped off a come-from-behind 6-5 win in the opener. BlueSky won the nightcap 5-4, with the clinching run coming on an RBI single by winning pitcher Ray Wojtala.
“It’s definitely different, especially when we started the first game in Dollar Bay and come out here to finish. It’s kind of odd,” said BlueSky manager Jason Koski, who took the loss on the mound in Game 1, walking home the eventual winning Stanton run. “I personally walked a couple guys and it ended up costing us the game. I thought we could have won that one as well, but any time you beat Stanton, you have to be happy.”
In the opener, Johnny Raisanen set Koski up for the win with a two-run bomb to dead center, giving BlueSky (technically the home team still) a 5-4 lead after six innings. But, Josh Koskela led off the seventh with arguably an even longer home run, which nearly cleared the first row of trees just past the rightfield fence.
With the game tied, Koski quickly induced two outs before it all unraveled. He walked Tom Durocher after working the count full, surrendered a double to Brooks Olson, intentionally walked Daron Durocher to load the bases, and then lost Brady Olson on four straight pitches. Josh Hibbard flew out, but the damage was done. Koski had a chance to redeem himself with a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, but he flew out to center to end the game, giving Brady Olson the pitching win.
“Starting the first game, going from winning by one to losing by one, and coming back to win the game was nice,” said Stanton manager Daron Durocher, who was a combined 4 for 5 Tuesday. “Then in the second game, Trent (Keteri) threw a pretty good ballgame for his first time out this year … but the bigger thing was we didn’t play completely sound defensively, and it hurt us.”
Durocher had been trying to get in touch with Keteri before about pitching, and finally got a call through to his family at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Keteri called Durocher just about an hour before the 6:30 p.m. game to confirm he could make it.
He only allowed six hits over seven innings, and struck out four batters, but he also walked five, hit a batter and had his teammates commit five errors behind him.
No BlueSky player had more than one hit in the second game, but the hits and Stanton defensive errors came at just the right time.
Hibbard gave Stanton a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single to right, which lasted until the third inning when Greg Seppanen matched it with an RBI single of his own.
Stanton’s Erik Nettell made it 2-1 with a third-inning RBI groundout, but the Wildcat clean-up hitter failed to register any other hits during the game.
BlueSky’s big breakthrough took place in the fourth after a single, error and walk loaded the bases to start the inning. Keith Halonen earned an RBI on a fielder’s choice, but another run scored on a throwing error. Brian Juopperi capped off the three-run inning with an RBI single to right center after a lengthy at-bat.
Koskela cut Stanton’s deficit to 4-3 in the fifth inning, and Brady Olson’s RBI double to the centerfield fence in the sixth inning knotted up the score.
It was an eerily similar feeling to the first game with BlueSky surrendering a late lead, but a leadoff walk to Paul Moyryla in the top of the seventh set the table for Wojtala to give himself the win.
He smashed a single to center, scoring Moyryla, who had advanced to second base on a passed ball.
Koskela hit a single and advanced to second on a throwing error with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Wojtala shut the door on his complete-game win. He surrendered 11 hits overall and only struck out one, but he didn’t walk any and relied on steady defense behind him.
“It was a solid team effort,” he said. “… You could definitely feel the momentum changes. We pulled ahead there, then I knew Stanton, they love to hit the fastball, they’re solid hitters all the way through the lineup. I got caught giving them a lot of fastballs and putting some of them right over the plate, but we managed to squeak it out in the end.”