HANCOCK - BlueSky Health earned a chance to settle the score atop the Twilight League standings.
BlueSky earned its spot in next week's championship series by brushing aside Pat's Foods 16-6 Thursday to complete a two-game sweep. They will have to wait a few extra days for an opponent, however, after Mosquito Inn-Toivola forced a game three against Stanton, the league's other co-champion.
The co-champs rapped out 19 hits in seven innings, with Brian Juopperi delivering four with an RBI, Ray Wojtala having three hits and two RBIs and Keith Halonen posting a pair of two-run doubles.
BlueSky Health’s Dan Juopperi follows through on a swing during Thursday’s Twilight League playoff semifinal Game 2 against Pat’s Foods at Hancock Driving Park. BlueSky advanced to the championship series with a 16-6 win and 2-0 series sweep. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"We seemed to make the most of our hits and when we got on, we were aggressive on the basepaths," BlueSky manager Jason Koski said.
BlueSky didn't have any huge innings, scoring three times twice and five times once, but kept the lineup turning over. Leadoff hitter Johnny Raisanen had six plate appearances, one in every inning but the third (he was 1-for-4 with a pair of walks).
It was a second straight strong offensive performance, as BlueSky rode a six-run fourth inning to a 9-2 victory at home in Game 1 on Tuesday.
Pat's responded with three home runs, two off the bat of starting pitcher C.J. Lepisto.
Lepisto's two-run shot in the first inning took the edge off BlueSky's three-run first inning. The hosts evened it up in the second after Chris Nielsen had a lead-off single, advanced to third on Brett Lepisto's base hit and sored on a one-out fielder's choice off the bat of Brent Jurmu.
The tie didn't last long, as Brian Juopperi and Paul Moyryla opened the third with back-to-back singles. Moyryla stole second to get into scoring position and both came in when Luke Peterson's grounder got through the right side for an error. Peterson later scored on a wild pitch for a 6-3 lead.
Pat's made its last real challenge in the fourth with the help of Lee Naugle, who clubbed a solo shot, his second of the series and 10th of the season, to make it 6-4.
The game started slipping away from the hosts in the fifth. Wojtala singled and later scored on a wild pitch, to be followed by the first of Halonen's two-RBI doubles, pushing the gap out of grand-slam range at 9-4.
C.J. Lepisto led off the fifth with another solo shot, but BlueSky put the game away with a five-spot in the sixth, including RBI singles from Wojtala and Juopperi and another Halonen two-RBI double.
C.J. Lepisto went the distance and had three strikeouts and three walks.
On the opposite side of the scorebook, Koski pushed through six innings. He allowed five runs on nine hits, had three strikeouts, two walks but stranded runners on base in all but one frame (which ended in a double play).
"They hit me hard, but we play good defense," Koski said.
C.J. Lepisto led the attack with his 10 total bases (two HRs, a double), while both Nielson (two singles) and Naugle (single and a HR) had a pair.
In Tuesday's opener at Dollar Bay, Peterson's solo shot kicked off the decisive six-run fourth in a 9-2 BlueSky win.
Raisanen, Halonen and Moyryla had two hits apiece in support of Wojtala, the winning pitcher.
Lee Naugle homered in the sixth inning for Pat's, but also took the loss.