Hancock sweeps L’Anse
HANCOCK – When the Hancock Bulldogs and L’Anse Purple Hornets baseball teams met earlier this season, the two offenses combined for a multitude of runs. On Tuesday evening at the Hancock Driving Park, pitching was on display. The Bulldogs found a way to win the opener, 4-3, despite trailing the entire way. In the nightcap, the Bulldogs led for much of the contest but nearly found themselves in a tie before starting pitcher Carter Nettell picked up his fourth strikeout in the sixth to earn the win, 3-2.
Looking to give Hans Stimac a night off, the Bulldogs turned to Alex Nordstrom in the first game. After surrendering three runs in the top of the first inning, he settled in, allowing only eight baserunners over the next five innings to earn the win.
Nettell was equally strong in the second game, racking up seven strikeouts, including four in the bottom of the sixth.
“Nordy was awesome,” said Bulldogs manager Ramon Sague. “Hans has pitched a lot of innings this year. Nordy, I wanted to get him in there. It was great we were able to start him.
“He pitched really well the first inning, but they hit him for three runs. After that, he completely shut them down and he gave us an opportunity. It all paid off in the end.”
For the Hornets, the loss in the opening game was hard to swallow considering how well they played. In the second game, they had the tying run 90 feet from home plate when the final strikeout occurred.
Manager Jeff Fish’s team, which turned to Kooper Jahfetson on the mound in the first game and then classmate Bryce Crawford in the second, has yet to learn an important lesson: How to win.
“Learning how to win, that is where we are at,” said Fish. “We didn’t learn that yet. We have to learn how to win. We are one out away. A good throw ends the game, 3-2.”
Logan Fish opened the top of the first inning with a single off of Nordstrom. Jahfetson sacrificed to move Fish into scoring position. Mike Anderson grounded out back to the pitcher. Fish scored on a single by Brett Mattson.
Chase Anderson followed with a single of his own right after Mattson. Joe Magaraggia doubled to give the Hornets a 3-0 lead.
Nordstrom shut the door after getting Cole Younggren to ground out, putting up eight strikeouts over the next five innings. The lack of key hits frustrated Jeff Fish and his staff.
“We just need a hit, a timely hit, a walk or something like that,” said Fish. “We need a break to go our way, soon.”
Looking to help their pitcher out, the Bulldogs’ bats came alive in the third. Jacob Vettori opened the inning by reaching on an error. After Dawson Kero struck out, Stimac walked. Both runners managed to get home, pulling Hancock within one.
Jahfetson settled back down after that inning and he fought hard to keep the Bulldogs at bay. In bottom of the fifth, it appeared that if Hancock was going to even things up, they would do it quickly as they had Stimac, Nettell and Tanner Givens, who make up the majority of the top of their lineup, all due to the plate. Three pitches later, all three had flown out, ending any chance to tie things up.
In the bottom of the sixth, Brody Budweg got down two strikes quickly. He then proceeding to fight off a couple of pitches until he forced Jahfetson to walk him. Nordstrom also walked, ending Jahfetson’s night on the mound. Logan Fish came in for relief.
Bryan Lepisto laid down a bunt to move the runners into scoring position. After getting the next batter to strikeout, Fish tangled with Vettori. Vettori hit into what appeared to be a routine play at second, but Jahfetson’s throw sailed over Magaraggia’s head, allowing Budweg and Nordstrom to score and end the game.
In the nightcap, the Bulldogs jumped all over Crawford early. Kero was hit by the second pitch of the game. Stimac followed with a single, bringing him home. Nettell flew out, moving Stimac into a position to score. Givens brought him home with another sacrifice fly.
Though it appeared Hancock might roll over the Hornets at that point, things changed quickly as Crawford shut the door until the fourth.
In the bottom of the third, the Hornets evened things up with some smart efforts at the plate. After a pair of strikeouts to open the inning, Logan Fish drew a walk from Nettell. Jahfetson followed with a walk as well. Anderson hit a ball to deep center that Nordstrom could not come up with, and both runners managed to score on the play.
Nettell helped his own cause in the top of the fourth by singling to start the inning. Givens hit a sacrifice fly to bring him home.
Nettell got stronger as the game headed into the late innings. He opened the bottom of the sixth by getting Aaron Collins and Anderson to both strikeout. Mattson also struck out, but he managed to get to first on a passed ball anyway. After stealing second and third in rapid succession, he attempted to make things difficult for Nettell by getting halfway down the basepath. However, the Hancock pitcher stood tall, getting Sullivan to strikeout to end the contest.
Up next, Hancock hosts Jeffers on Friday, while L’Anse hosts Calumet on Monday.