HANCOCK - Two games with very different processes, one going extra innings, the other stopped after just five, finished with the same result Saturday: wins for the Hancock Post 186 American Legion baseball team.
Hancock scored seven times in the fifth inning before the Iron Mountain Golds could record an out, triggering the run-differential rule in a 16-6 game one rout. The hosts then swept the doubleheader at Hancock Driving Park by winning game two 6-5 in eight innings.
"The second game was more about what I expected from that team," Hancock manager Nels Paul said of the Golds. "We did get the timely hits when we needed. We didn't get bunches, but we got what we needed."
Hancock second baseman Brett Beauchamp turns the double play after forcing out the Iron Mountain Golds’ Chase Gendron at second base during game two of their American Legion baseball doubleheader Saturday at Hancock Driving Park. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The second game turned on a knife edge more than once in the late innings. The Golds tied it up on Brad Blomquist's sacrifice fly, with Chase Gendron scoring just moments before Luke Paul's relay throw cut down Casey Buckner at third for the last out of the seventh inning.
Hancock looked poised to win it in seven with two on and none out, but a comebacker to the mound and a tag at home preceded Grenier catching a Mike Saari pop-up with his back to the plate in foul territory near first base for the last out of the frame.
In the eighth, Hancock escaped despite the Golds putting their first two runners on, and in the bottom of the inning, Jari Sague scored the winning run from second after Darren Bausano's grounder to shortstop triggered a wild throw.
Iron Mtn. 20004 - 6 8 3
Hancock 22507 - 16 12 1
WP - Travis Tollefson, 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 3 Ks
LP - Tyler Polfus, 1.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 5 BB, 2 Ks
IM - Paul Kuoppala, 2-2, RBI; Cole Grenier, 2-3, RBI
HAN - Tyler LaDuron, 3-3, 3 RBIs; Tollefson, 3-4, 2 RBIs
Iron Mtn. 20002010 - 5 6 4
Hancock 01202001 - 6 8 3
WP - LaDuron, CG, 2 ER, 6 H, 5 BB, 9 Ks
LP - Brad Blomquist, 5 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 K, 2 BB
IM - Casey Buckner 2-4; Cole Grenier 2-4, RBI
HAN - Luke Paul, Jari Sague, LaDuron, two hits apiece
"When we're down, we're able to come back. When it comes down to it, there's guys on and we're able to get them in," Tyler LaDuron said. LaDuron had five of Hancock's 20 hits in the doubleheader and went all eight innings in game two, striking out nine and scattering six hits and five walks.
The victories get Hancock to 19-5 overall and 9-3 in Mid-Pen League play.
Despite the defeat, Iron Mountain was much stronger in nearly every facet of the game in game two, as solid pitching from Grenier through the first three innings settled the Golds down. Grenier gave way to Blomquist in the fourth, as manager Jeff Buckner had to conserve arms for a Sunday doubleheader with Luxemburg, Wis.
"I wish we could've had a little deeper pitching, but the kids did a fantastic job," he said.
Iron Mountain grabbed the early lead after Blomquist reached on an error, Michigan Tech football recruit Paul Kuoppala tripled him in, then scored on Gabe Swanson's single up the middle.
Hancock tied it in the third on a LaDuron RBI double, then took the lead when VanWagner stole third and scored on the wild throw, the first of four lead changes.
Buckner and Grenier had two hits apiece for the Golds, while Luke Paul, Sague and LaDuron recorded a pair of hits each for Hancock.
In game one, Hancock marched to an easy win with help from 12 hits and 10 Iron Mountain walks.
Still, Iron Mountain had the early lead, scoring twice in the first inning after Tyler Polfus's squeeze bunt brought in Buckner and Grenier scored after a Hancock error.
However, the lead was quickly erased, as pitcher Travis Tollefson helped his own cause with a two-RBI double to left field.
Hancock added two more runs in the second inning and five in the third, with the big blow being LaDuron's no-doubt two-run homer to left.
The Golds appeared to be back in the game, scoring four times in the fifth on two walks and four consecutive hits before Luke Paul came in to strike out Gendron and end the threat.
The renaissance didn't last long, as three bases-loaded walks, a wild pitch and RBI hits from Trent Keteri and Sague dropped the curtain on the opener.
Nels Paul said the Golds' control pitfalls could hurt any team.
"If we do that, it's the same thing. When you walk some batters, you know you're going to run into trouble," he said.
Tollefson got the win, pitching 4 2/3 innings with five earned runs and eight hits allowed. He struck out three and walked three. He also went 3-for-4 at the plate with his two RBIs. LaDuron also was 3-for-3 and had three RBIs.
Tyler Polfus took the loss. He allowed two earned runs and two hits. He walked five, struck out two and came out of the game in the second inning with an arm issue. Kuoppala and Grenier had two hits and an RBI apiece.
Hancock is back in action tonight for a league doubleheader against Negaunee at the Driving Park.