Hancock Legion starts zones 0-2

MARQUETTE – Hits were a scarce commodity for Hancock Post 186 Thursday as they dropped a pair of baseball decisions in the Upper Peninsula American Legion Class A zone tournament.

Ryan Woods tossed a three-hitter and struck out 12 as the Menominee Red Wave beat Hancock 5-2.

Ryan Walther then fired a two-hitter as the Marquette Blues romped past Hancock 16-1 in six innings.

Marquette, taking advantage of three walks, two hit batsmen and an error, scored seven times in the sixth.

“They (Marquette) are just a well disciplined team,” said Hancock manager Ron Stimac. “Their top 3-4 hitters are very good.”

Marquette first baseman McKinley Larson collected three hits and drove in four runs. He cracked a two-run double to rightfield and a two-run single to center in the sixth when the Blues sent 12 hitters to the plate. He also ripped an RBI triple to center in a four-run first.

Third-baseman Ryan Hanson and Walther added two hits apiece for Marquette, which finished with 11 hits off three Hancock pitchers.

Hans Stimac, who pitched the first 3 1/3 innings, absorbed the loss. He fanned three, walked one and allowed seven runs on eight hits.

“We didn’t come prepared to play the second game,” said manager Stimac. “We came out flat. We also gave up too many walks and threw the ball around too much. When you do that, the wheels come off.”

Gabe Rupright, who led off the first with a single to center, scored Hancock’s lone run on Al Nettell’s sacrifice fly to center.

Carter Puuri’s single to left accounted for Hancock’s second hit off Walther, who fanned seven and walked four.

Hancock’s hopes remain alive despite the setback as the two top teams in each bracket advance to Saturday’s semifinals. Joining Hancock in this bracket are Escanaba and Ishpeming.

“Most of our kids are 15 and 16-year-olds,” said manager Stimac. “We’re in rebuilding mode and this is character building time. We need to play a tighter game. We just have to come back here tomorrow and try to win a game.”

The Flames resume this morning at 11:30 against Gladstone.

In the earlier contest, Hancock’s Brad Ward opened the scoring on a fielder’s choice in the first.

Menominee’s Mason Kewley tied the score in the third on Ryne Francour’s groundout to shortstop. The Red Wave then took a 2-1 lead on a double to left by Woods.

Hancock tied the score in the sixth on Puuri’s single to center.

Menominee, however, responded with three runs in its half of the sixth.

The Red Wave regained the lead on Matt Hanson’s single to left and finished the scoring on Riley Hegg’s two-run double to right.

Kewley finished 2-for-2. Landon Maccoux also had two hits for Menominee.

Hancock’s Coy Budweg, who pitched the entire contest, gave up eight hits and took the loss.

“Coy had a three-game winning streak coming in here,” said manager Stimac. “We played them tough. Their top four hitters are real strong. They hit us real hard.”

Marquette, which also clubbed Ishpeming 11-1 in six innings, has outscored its first two post-season opponents 27-2.

“We’re happy with the way the boys played,” said Marquette manager Derek Swajanen. “We’re a good team which is in a favorable position. I think we’ll be okay. We just don’t want to give up any runs. We need to take care of business. Everybody in our bracket is undefeated.”

In Thursday’s opener, Sam Pouliot threw a one-hitter as Gladstone squeezed past Esky 3-2.

Hunter Garling and Christian Groleau had two hits each and Christian Groleau scored the game-winner on Hayden Hardwick’s sacrifice fly to right in the fifth.

Esky loaded the bases with two out in the seventh, but was unable to score.