Durocher, Stanton shut out L’Anse

STANTON – Stanton manager and pitcher Daron Durocher won’t be raising any eyebrows with radar-gun stuff this season on the mound.

But as Greg Maddux cemented in the mind of all soft-tossing righties, you do not need a blazing fastball if you can locate your pitches with enough movement.

Mixing in a dropping curveball with the usual pinpoint fastball-changeup combination, Durocher tossed just the third shutout for the entire Twilight League this season, blanking the L’Anse Lakers over seven innings with just four hits and a walk given up.

The Wildcats put enough pressure offensively on L’Anse starter Luke Paul to score five runs over the final four innings and Stanton moved one step closer to back-to-back regular season titles, improving to 8-3 and 1 1/2 games above BlueSky Health in the standings with the 5-0 victory.

“It was not bad today, huh? I definitely didn’t expect to do that,” Durocher said. “I had a curveball moving today and that is something I haven’t had a whole lot of this year. I found something that worked and just kept mixing it in.”

The battle against Lakers third baseman Travis Tollefson in the first inning illustrates Durocher’s particular brand of dominance best Tuesday night.

Tollefson fouled off seven straight pitches before flying out softly to left field and walked to the dugout shaking his head.

That feeling that he “just missed” was one a lot of Lakers shared on the night, but other than a line out from Joey Richards in the sixth, no one from L’Anse managed to square up Durocher true.

Durocher produced only three swinging strikeouts among the 21 outs, but awkward swings gifted the defense 12 fly balls to snag.

“In previous outings I didn’t have anything that was moving, so you can just sit on the fastball,” Durocher said. “It changed the eye level. It made them think again when it wasn’t just straight and straight.”

For the other half of the inning, Paul pitched a solid game in his first appearance of the season for L’Anse but was hurt by several errors and the deep lineup of Stanton.

Eight of the nine Wildcats hit safely and five different players scored runs, while Durocher, Josh Hibbard, Erik Nettell and Brooks Olson all produced RBIs.

Stanton pushed across the eventual winning runs in the third inning with Conor Cocking and Durocher scoring as Josh Hibbard and Erik Nettell drove the pair in.

The Wildcats drove in an insurance run in each of the next three innings to give Durocher some breathing room out on the mound.

“It seems like no matter who I plug in, they are producing,” Durocher said. “Brooks Olson got a big knock today, and he isn’t playing every day and Conor got on base a couple of times. It sets the lineup up deeper.”