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KEARSARGE – In a battle of the two top teams in Twilight League Baseball, Wolverine-Orbit took advantage of mistakes made by visiting Superior National Bank-Stanton – both early and late – to come away from Wolverine Field with a 4-1 win Tuesday night.
It was exactly the type of game one would expect from the two teams.
“That was a fun game,” said Wolverine player-manager Luke Paul. “There’s hitting, there’s good defense, a few mistakes here or there… It was just good baseball.”
With one game separating the rivals in the standings coming into the game, the focus for Wolverine was to jump on Stanton pitcher Trent Keteri, early. With a set of back-to-back long hits to right field in the bottom of the first inning, they did just that, scoring runs on consecutive multi-base hits.
“Whenever you are playing Stanton, you know they can hit,” said Paul. “So whenever you can get up early, that is a big advantage. That really helps you out. That really calms the nerves. To get up big on Stanton, that helps a lot.”
For Stanton, the task of solving Wolverine pitcher Coy Budweg proved to be difficult. Budweg scattered three hits and four strikeouts over six innings.
“That might have been the best game I’ve ever seen Coy pitch,” said Paul. “I was glad to see it against Stanton. Those are the games where we want to have our best baseball, and that is what we did.”
First baseman Matt Donley, who had a strong day at the plate with four singles, opened things for Wolverine (10-3) in the first inning with a single over Stanton third baseman Tyler LaDuron. Third baseman Mike Saari ripped a triple to right field to bring Donley home. Paul followed with a double to right field as well, scoring Saari on the play to give the hosts a 2-0 lead after one inning.
Stanton player-manager Daron Durocher felt his team suffered through a lack of focus early on.
“[We] just [did] not [have] our total head in the game,” said Durocher. “That’s all part of the game. Our heads were not all totally in it and it cost us.”
LaDuron had been the only baserunner Stanton had on base until the fourth inning when first baseman Josh Koskela singled to right field. Keteri attempted to help himself out in the top of the fifth when he reached on an error by Saari at third, but the two batters who followed him failed to bring him home.
In the fifth inning, Wolverine extended their lead. Donley singled over LaDuron again. Saari rifled a ball down the first base line that hit Koskela in the leg and skittered toward second, allowing Saari to reach.
After Paul walked to load the bases, right fielder Zach Hill hit into a fielder’s choice. He reached first base, knocking Donley home and extending the hosts’ lead to three, 3-0.
Looking for a response, Stanton (9-5) mustered one in the top of the sixth. Center fielder Carter Nettell led off with a double to center field. LaDuron wired a long hit all the way to the fence in left center, earning a double on the play. Nettell rounded third and scored on the play. Koskela hit a sacrifice fly to move LaDuron to third, but catcher Cole Jepsen could not bring him home.
With one more trip to the plate for Stanton in the top of the seventh, Paul felt it was important for his team to respond before Stanton could make use of any momentum they created in the sixth.
“Two runs for Stanton is nothing for them,” said Paul. “Knowing that if we could come back and get that one run back, I think that we would be sitting good.”
After two quick outs, the game appeared to be swinging in Stanton’s favor until left fielder Devin Kero drew a walk. Donley followed with a single to center field. Saari singled past third to bring Kero home.
Paul took the mound to close things out in the seventh. After walking Keteri, Paul forced right fielder Max Smith to hit into a fielder’s choice. Paul then got left fielder Tom Durocher to ground out to end the game.