L'ANSE -- The Stanton Wildcats had a job to do and accomplished it Thursday.
With a straightforward 11-1 win over the L'Anse Lakers, they grabbed a share of the Twilight League regular season championship and the top seed in the league tournament beginning Tuesday.
With the possible exception of the fifth and final inning, there was no offensive explosion, just steady production: just the way Stanton boss Daron Durocher likes it.
Stanton’s Daron Durocher slides in to score a run ahead of the throw to L’Anse pitcher Tyler LaDuron during the third inning of Thursday’s Twilight League game in?L’Anse. The Wildcats claimed a share of the league title with an 11-1 victory. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"We made solid contact, which was something we didn't do in the last three games," Durocher said.
The bats were more than enough required to support Mike Saari, who allowed just one run on two hits over the five innings.
"It saves myself or anybody else from having to pitch tonight so we're ready for next week," Durocher said.
Stanton0132511 8 1
L'Anse001001 2 1
WP - Mike Saari, CG, 1 R (0 ER), 2 H, 3 K, 2 BB
LP - Tyler LaDuron, CG, 10 ER, 8 H, 5 K, 5 BB
Stanton - Josh Koskela, 2-for-3, RBI; Erik Nettell, 2-for-3, HR, RBI
L'Anse - LaDuron, 1-for-3, R; Goodreau, 1-for-3.
Stanton finished the regular season 10-6, same as BlueSky Health. The teams split four games, three of which were decided by a single run, but the June 27 meeting was a 9-7 win for Stanton, giving the Wildcats an aggregate advantage of 21-20.
Therefore, Stanton will host Mosquito Inn-Toivola (7-8) Tuesday in game one of a best-of-three, while BlueSky hosts Pat's Foods. Pat's (9-7) missed its chance to create a three-way tie when it lost the second game of a doubleheader with Toivola Tuesday.
Thursday, Stanton faced L'Anse fireballer Tyler LaDuron. Through two innings, Stanton had just a single run after Josh Koskela singled, took second on a balk and scored after two passed balls. However, the offense started pouring in during the third inning.
Durocher doubled in a run and later scored on a passed ball. Had he waited a pitch or two, he could have trotted in on Erik Nettell's no-doubter shot to right.
L'Anse nabbed its only run of the game in the third. LaDuron grounded into a fielder's choice, got moved over to third on a catcher's interference and a walk, then came into score on Joey Richard's fielder's choice grounder.
Stanton picked up a pair of runs in the fourth, then finished off the contest with a five-run fifth. Koskela and Dax Durocher had RBI singles before Stanton tacked on three more on a bases-loaded walk, a passed ball and a Max Smith RBI groundout.
LaDuron allowed eight hits in the five innings, walked five and struck out five.
Saari, who does not have enough games to be on Stanton's postseason roster, fanned three and walked two.
L'Anse finished its first season in the league with a 3-12 mark.
Stanton is looking to carry its performance Thursday into a successful defense of the tournament title it claimed last year.
"Now that we've got it rolling, we have to stay sharp," Daron Durocher said.