HANCOCK - Being the higher seed in the Twilight League playoffs, BlueSky Health didn't expect to be playing for its season Friday.
It also didn't expect the key event that helped bring its series to Pat's Foods back to level terms.
Mark Nordstrom clubbed a grand slam in the fifth inning to break a 3-3 tie and BlueSky sent the series back to Dollar Bay with an 8-4 victory in Game 2.
Daily Mining Gazette/Brandon Veale
BlueSky Health pitcher Jason Koski throws out Pat’s Foods runner Carl Roscoe on a bunt attempt in the fifth inning of Friday’s Twilight League Playoff Game 2 at Hancock Driving Park. Koski pitched a complete game as BlueSky forced a third and deciding game with an 8-4 victory.
Pitcher/manager Jason Koski wasn't expecting Nordstrom's big fly, which came while he was coaching third base.
"I told Keith (Halonen), get back and tag. Usually Nordy's got warning-track power," Koski joked.
Nordstrom wasn't expecting Nordstrom's big fly, either. He attempted to lay down a bunt earlier in the count and was in full-protection mode with the count 2-2.
BSH 20104108 8 3
Pat's 00031004 7 2
WP - Jason Koski, CG, 1 ER, 7 H, 3 Ks, 1 BB
LP - Luke Paul, CG, 8 ER, 8 H, 11Ks, 8 BB
BSH: Ray Wojtala, 3-for-4, 4 RBIs; Mark Nordstrom 1-for-4, GS
Pat's: Luke Paul 3-for-3
"I shortened up my swing, honestly, just looking to put something into play," he said.
He put it into play and out of play, clearing the left-field fence and the bases for a 7-3 lead just minutes after BlueSky had coughed up its early 3-0 advantage.
The visitors put up two runs in the first inning and another in the third with all three RBIs coming from back-to-back singles by Ray Wojtala, but the first four Pat's runners reached in the bottom of the fourth. Lee Naugle doubled in a run, Clint Heikkala got an infield hit and an RBI, and Naugle came around to tie the game as Tyler Ebben grounded into a double play.
Luke Paul, pitching for Pat's, had settled into a groove, but got in trouble early in the fifth, hitting Halonen, giving up a single through the box to Brian Juopperi and walking Luke Peterson. He fanned Wojtala but couldn't get past Nordstrom.
Paul struck out 11, but walked eight and allowed eight hits. All eight runs charged to him were earned.
Back-to-back two-out singles and some assistance from the BSH defense helped Pat's pull a run back in the bottom of the inning, but Wojtala recorded his third RBI single of the game in the sixth and Koski kept Pat's in control the rest of the way.
Koski, who last pitched at the Leo Durocher Memorial Wood-Bat Tournament nearly a month ago, put together a solid outing, allowing seven hits and one earned run in a complete game. He struck out three and walked one.
"It looked like he was fresh tonight. Manager put the game on his shoulders and he came through for us," Nordstrom said.
Wojtala finished with four RBIs and a 3-for-4 night. Paul led Pat's offensively with three base knocks.
The deciding game of the series is Sunday, 6 p.m., in Dollar Bay. Pat's manager Pete Guidotti was happy overall with his team's pitching and defense and hopes that will help his team spring a second upset on the road.
"Yeah, Nordy had he home run, the grand slam and that was the killer stroke, but we had the defense behind us to keep us in the game," he said.