DOLLAR BAY -Wolverine-Orbit's Luke Paul took a different angle to attack BlueSky Health hitters Thursday night with promising results.
The beginning of Paul's sidearm experiment came last summer in a college developmental league in the Chicago area.
"I was messing around and my coach sort of told me, 'Can you throw like that in a game?" I said yes, and he thought that if I go down like that it would be really tough because you don't see many people doing that."?Paul said.
Wolverine-Orbit pitcher Luke Paul pitches during the sixth inning of Thursday’s Twilight League game against BlueSky Health in Dollar Bay. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
It worked well enough for him to retire the first nine batters in order while his team piled up an early lead in a 12-7 Twilight League victory.
"It worked really well. I was actually surprised how well it worked," he said.
Delivering sidearm with a fastball, slider and sinking change-up, Paul struck out two of the first three batters and didn't allow a ball out of the infield until the fourth inning.
In the top of the third, Wolverine got hot and scored six times. From there on, the visitors were closer to enforcing the run rule than they were to defeat.
Wolverine didn't have any hits in the first 2 1/3 innings, either, but after a pair of one-out walks, Chris Saari dodged the tag from pitcher Scott Storm on a dribbler down the first-base line for the game's first hit. Joe Richard, the next batter, doubled to the outfield and lit the fuse on the visitors' offense.
Darren Bausano, Jari Sague and Mike Saari connected three straight singles, leading to a combined four RBIs for six runs on five hits.
A walk, an error, back-to-back hits by Richard and Paul and Bausano's RBI groundout gave Paul an 8-0 lead at the halfway point.
The second half of the outing proved to be more of a grind. Paul walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth. Kyle Storm and Scott Wesa hit back-to-back doubles for a combined three RBIs to tighten things up.
"After so many innings, people pick up on it and it becomes easier and easier," Paul said.
One run in the fifth and two in the sixth for Wolverine ensured the hosts didn't threaten the cushion significantly.
Paul finished the game with a wise decision - with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, he took himself off the mound and gave the ball to Mike Saari, who snared a comebacker to start a game-ending 1-2-3 double play.
"I keep myself on a short chain, last inning, walking kids, it's like, get a fresh arm, someone new, and it worked," he joked.
Mike Saari had three hits for the winners, now 2-2.
Scott Storm took the loss for BlueSky, now 2-4.
Tuesday, BlueSky hosts league-leading Mosquito Inn-Toivola, while Wolverine is at home against Stanton.