SNB-Stanton tops State Farm 7-4

HANCOCK – Young pitcher Cole Jepsen has not been called on often to hurl for Superior National Bank-Stanton this season. With a quiet fire, he throws hard when called upon. Thursday night, he proved that yet again as he scattered six hits over seven innings of work en route to a 7-4 win for SNB Stanton over Dean Kangas State Farm.

The win helped SNB-Stanton keep pace with Twilight League leaders, Wolverine-Orbit, whom they trail by a half game after improving to 8-3 on the season.

SNB-Stanton player-manager Daron Durocher had his work cut out for himself behind the plate catching Jepsen, but for the most part, the partnership worked well for the visitors.

“Me and Cole battled,” said Durocher. “His ball was moving. He battled and he gave me a good outing.

“He wanted it. [He had a] bulldog mentality, which you need as a pitcher. He wanted the ball, so that’s good and he finished strong. He dug down for it and he battled.”

Jepsen, a recent graduate of Houghton High School and who plans to play college ball starting in the fall, put up five strikeouts and recovered well in the sixth and seventh innings after surrendering two runs in the fifth.

For State Farm, the loss was their fourth in a row as their slump continued. However, it was not for lack of opportunities.

“We actually played well tonight,” said State Farm player-manager Brian Juopperi. “We definitely had a chance to win. It didn’t work out that way.”

Jason Koski did the best he could to match the effort Jepsen put forth, striking out four.

“Jason pitched well,” said Juopperi. “He did what he had to to give us a chance to win tonight.”

The game was scoreless going into the top of the second. Eric Nettell got things started for Stanton with a single down the first base line. Jepsen followed with a walk. Carter Nettell laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Trent Keteri doubled to the left field fence to score Eric Nettell and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

A close call on the next at bat threatened to make life very difficult for State Farm. With Jepsen at third, Brooks Olson stepped to the plate and attempted a bunt. As soon as the ball left Koski’s arm, Jepsen exploded for home, reaching the vicinity of the plate the same time as Koski’s pitch arrived. State Farm catcher Scott Pietila appeared to apply a tag just before Jepsen’s headfirst slide had him at the plate. Jepsen was ruled safe on the play, giving Stanton a 2-0 lead.

That run loomed large over much of the rest of the contest.

Max Smith singled to bring Keteri home to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.

State Farm got a run back in the bottom of the fourth. Brian Juopperi singled to short left field. T.J. Kilpela followed by reaching on a single. A passed ball allowed Juopperi to cut the lead to two, 3-1.

Things remained that way until the bottom of the fifth. Scott Pietila led the inning off for State Farm with a single to center field. Koski followed with a single, putting runners on the corners. A wild pitch, which was the fourth ball for Brady Turner, allowed Pietila to score. Brian Juopperi hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Koski on the play to even things at 3-3.

In the top of the sixth, Carter Nettell singled to lead off for Stanton. Keteri singled to center field. Olson singled to deep center, scoring Nettell and Keteri on the play.

In the bottom of the sixth, State Farm rallied again.

Kilpela walked to lead off. Dan Juopperi was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance into scoring position. Owen Kariniemi walked to load the bases. Koski singled to bring home Kilpela.

Leading by one, 5-4, in the top of the seventh, Stanton settled in and their bats came alive.

Durocher opened with a walk. Tyler LaDuron then doubled to deep center near the fence. Durocher scored on the play. Josh Koskela singled to bring LaDuron home and open up a three-run lead, 7-4.

Stanton is off until the Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament next weekend. State Farm has one more tune-up before the tournament on Tuesday against Wolverine-Orbit.