DOLLAR BAY - Better than Botox or any facelift, the Copper Country Twilight League has received a direct injection of youth.
Stanton, long the league standard for veterans, had a fresh look Tuesday in Dollar Bay at BlueSky Health, sporting three players new to the squad and at least five not old enough to drink yet.
The resurrected Wolverine is composed almost entirely of just aged-out Legion ball players, while Owen Kariniemi, Brady Turner and Kyle Storm among others have kept BlueSky Health lively and young.
Stanton’s Trent Keteri delivers during a Twilight League game against BlueSky Health in Dollar Bay Tuesday night. The Wildcats won 8-5. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
The youth movement coincides nicely with the rise of Houghton's first season in varsity baseball, with Trent Keteri, Connor Hannon and Cole Jepsen representing the Gremlins on Stanton.
"It's great for our area to have more young guys playing baseball, great for our league. Heck, it's almost a new league," Stanton manager Daron Durocher said. "A guy like Cole, he came to me looking to play and he has been great for us. Connor and Tyler (LaDuron) are rookies too and while Dax (Durocher) and Trent have been here for a few years, they are really going to get some playing time this season.
"The only problem is now I'm almost twice the age of these new guys."
The Wildcat youth meshed nicely with the veterans Tuesday, as Stanton plated eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings to give starting pitcher Keteri an 8-5 victory over BlueSky.
The veterans got things started with Brady Olson and Erik Nettell driving in runs in the fifth, as new shortstop LaDuron, Durocher and Olson came around to score. The youth continued the winning pattern in the next inning as Dax Durocher, Keteri, Hannon and Jepson all picked up RBIs.
"It was worrisome at the beginning of the year but they have been impressive in the couple games," Durocher said. "We came together pretty well here today. Everyone is kind of feeling out their role on the team."
Stanton will rely almost entirely on young arms, with Durocher looking to rotate Keteri, Jepsen and LaDuron as starters.
Keteri toed the mound Tuesday, giving up seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts in a complete seven innings.
Durocher, a catcher, likes being behind the plate for the newer pitchers to try and pass along some knowledge.
"I've been doing it long enough I should be able to teach them something by now," Durocher said with a laugh.
Nettell led the way against BlueSky with three hits and two RBI, while Daron and Dax Durocher and Keteri collected two each.
For BlueSky, Scott Storm impressed with three hits, including two doubles, and Kyle Storm reached the wall in his first at-bat with a two-bagger. Dan Juopperi provided the power for the evening, clearing the left field wall in the sixth inning for a solo home run.
"It is anyone's league this year," Durocher said. "With so many new guys, it really could go any way."