BlueSky takes league lead
DOLLAR BAY – Behind a gem on the mound from Ray Wojtala Tuesday night, BlueSky Health thoroughly muddled the Twilight League regular season title picture with a 3-2 victory over Stanton in Dollar Bay.
With the win, BlueSky finished the regular season at 10-6, penciling the Dollar Bay squad temporarily at the top of the standings.
However, the Wildcats (9-6) sit behind just one game with a makeup game to play Thursday at L’Anse. A win over the Lakers would leave Stanton at 10-6 as well.
Jumbling matters further, Pat’s Foods has strung together seven wins in its last eight contests – including a doubleheader sweep of L’Anse Tuesday night – to move to 9-5. The Hancock squad will host Mosquito Inn (Toivola) for two five-inning games tonight, a sweep of which would give Pat’s the regular season title outright.
If Toivola is in the mood to spoil tonight though, a split could create a three-way tie at the top.
After the contest, BSH manager Jason Koski declined to comment for this article.
Wojtala also declined to comment.
“We discussed the tiebreaker, and we went with runs against as the tiebreaker. The least runs against (in the series),” Stanton manager and league commissioner Daron Durocher said. “And with that, I believe we beat (BlueSky) out by two runs.
“Now if Hancock (Pat’s)?wins out, they take it outright. But if they lose one, I believe we also beat them (in the tiebreaker)… so if we win in L’Anse, and Pat’s loses one, I believe we become the league champ by a technicality.
“Now this is all just for seeding purposes (for the playoffs). I think the (regular season) trophy should just be split three ways in that scenario.”
In less mind-numbing matters Tuesday night, BlueSky put themselves in a tenuous championship position behind the strong right arm of Wojtala.
After giving up a pair of runs in the first inning – a double from Paul Kuoppala and a Brady Olson single did the damage – the former Michigan Tech quarterback settled down nicely, pounding the strike zone with a heavy fastball and diving curveball.
Stanton managed just two hits against Wojtala the rest of the way and couldn’t push a runner past second base.
“He kept us off-balance,” Durocher, who went 0-for-4 at the top of the lineup, said. “I thought I was seeing the ball but I couldn’t square up on it, that’s for sure. He has a nice fastball and he threw in a curveball so it was tough.”
With the way Wojtala was dealing, it took just one crack in Stanton’s composure to give BlueSky the opportunity to seize the lead.
That chance came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Owen Kariniemi led off with a routine grounder to third base, but Stanton infielder Erik Nettell threw wide of first, granting Kariniemi second base with the two-bag error. A soft single from Johnny Raisanen would move Kariniemi to third, and the subsequent sacrifice fly from Keith Halonen and RBI groundout were enough to give BlueSky a one-run advantage.
“(BlueSky) took advantage of the opportunity,” Durocher said. “I’m not a strikeout pitcher, so when it comes to a tough situation like that I have to rely on getting an out that keeps them from scoring and I couldn’t do that.”