TOIVOLA - It was Tyler LaDuron who served as the driving force behind the creation of the L'Anse Lakers, so it was poetic that LaDuron was the one to set the tone Tuesday night for the first official game in team history.
Granted a hanging curveball to feast on and a sweet, compact swing, the Twilight League newcomers took a quick 2-0 lead as LaDuron sent Mosquito Inn-Toivola pitcher Robert Brooks' first-inning offering soaring over the left-center fence.
Two frames later, L'Anse put the score permanently out of reach with a six-run outburst, taking advantage of multiple Toivola defensive miscues with some aggressive baserunning.
Tyler LaDuron homers for the L’Anse Lakers off Toivola pitcher Robert Brooks in the first inning of Tuesday’s Twilight League game in Toivola. L’Anse won 8-0. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
Mosquito Inn-Toivola pitcher Robert Brooks delivers during Tuesday’s Twilight League game against the L’Anse Lakers in Toivola. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
With an 8-0 victory in their pocket for the first game of the year, the youthful Lakers - only one player on the roster is over 21 years old - attitude shone clearly.
They will be taken seriously this season.
"This was Ty's idea," L'Anse elder statesman and manager Larry Lindlbauer said of the team's creation. "I remember a while ago saying if you can get a team together, then I'll play. And he came home one day saying 'we got a team!'" So it was Tyler, Travis Tollefson and Kris Turunen (members of the Hancock Legion Post 186 team) just getting it organized.
L'Anse 2 0 6 0 0 0 0 -8 9 2
Toivola 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 3 4
WP: Kris Turunen, 7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 5 K, 2 BB
LP: Robert Brooks, 7 IP, 8 R, 9 H, 10 K, 2 BB.
L'Anse: LaDuron, 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Turunen 3-4, 2 RBI; Goodreau 2-4, 3B, RBI.
Toivola: Janowiak, 2-4; Tyler Ebben, 1-3, 2B.
"For this season, they really want to get this team together and get some attention. So maybe next year people will realize they are pretty good and we can get a sponsor to stop paying out of pocket."
So far, so good.
Gifted the early run support Turunen proceeded to throw a shutout, mixing a low fastball with a swing-and-miss curve to keep the Toivola hitters off balance.
Turunen completed the game with four hits, five strikeouts and just two walks to his name, stranding eight runners in the process.
"Kris pitched a (heck) of a game," Toivola manager Rexx Janowiak said. "We never really got things rolling. He just threw strikes. And in this league when you can throw strikes, change speeds a little bit and throw a curveball, you are going to win some games."
In the decisive third inning, the Lakers were able to take advantage of their youth, showing off some team speed whenever a Toivola bobble gave them a sliver of daylight.
The L'Anse hitters stole five bases over the seven innings and were aggressive advancing throughout the contest.
By far the youngest team in the league, the Lakers are hoping to turn that youth into an advantage.
"We are a little bit faster I think," L'Anse first baseman Cody Goodreau, who chipped in two hits, including a triple and two stolen bases, said. "We want to take advantage of that, just stay aggressive."
"I'm going with (Toivola) to have a beer because no one else on my team can," Lindlbauer joked.
The loss dropped Toivola to 1-1 after a season opening win over BlueSky Health.
Janowiak lamented the defensive struggles as something that has to turn around quickly.
"It was terrible," Janowiak said. "If you look at that third inning, they scored six runs and we had four or five errors. And they weren't errors that should have been made, they were hustle plays where you just needed to get to the ball quicker and make the play, make the throw. So we buried ourselves."