SNB-Stanton wins Leo Durocher Memorial Tourney

STANTON – The never-say die Superior National Bank-Stanton Wildcats dug in and finally caught the Channing Railroaders in Sunday’s Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament.

And when they did, the Wildcats took advantage of their chances to score a clutch eight-inning 4-3 victory in the championship game.

A sacrifice fly by Josh Koskela in the bottom of the eigth frame brought in the winning run.

SNB-Stanton manager Daron Durocher said his team had to battle right from the start to beat a very good Channing team.

“We got down 3-0 in the first inning,” he pointed out. “But we kept scrapping and Carter Nettell kept us in the game with his pitching. For a 15-year-old kid to go out there… and pitch like he did was just tremendous.”

Nettell came on in the first inning after Channing drove starting pitcher Dustin Goupille from the mound.

While he struggled with his control (seven walks) at times, Nettell allowed just two hits and struck out eight batters.

He was able to outduel Channing pitcher Ken Pekorer, who was hurling his first game of the tourney.

“I thought our pitcher did a great job,” Channing manager Barry Hosworth said. “But they (Wildcats) kept chipping away. They made some big plays.”

Four walks and singles by Pekorer and Lane Holsworth gave the visitors their aforementioned 3-0 lead.

The locals got one run back in the bottom of the first on a long double by Paul Kuoppala and two groundouts.

Aided by some outstanding defensive work by his team, Pekorer then kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard until the sixth when a walk, single by Daron Durocher and fielder’s choice by Josh Hibbard made it 3-2.

The winners got a big break in the bottom of the seventh when Koskela singled and Cole Jepsen beat out a bunt. That was followed by a single by Goupille to tie it up.

Only a strong throw on a fly ball to Mike Miller of the Railroaders prevented the winning run from scoring later in the inning.

“We thought about sending the runner there,” Durocher said. “But we had to factor in the arm of the outfielder and the speed of our baserunner.”

After walking two batters in the top of the eighth inning, Nettell induced a fielder’s choice and struck out the final batter.

SNB-Stanton got the winning run after Hibbard drew a walk and moved to third on Kuoppala’s sharp single to center.

Koskela followed with a fly ball to medium right field to plate Hibbard.

The win enabled the victors to break a two-year drought in its own tourney.

“It’s always nice to win here,” Daron Durocher said. “This one was especially sweet. And it could propel us to better things the rest of the season.”

Kuoppala was the only player in the contest with two hits in the game.

Holsworth, whose team plays in the Wishigan League, playing in Stanton is something his team looks forward to.

“It’s a good tournament that Daron (Durocher) runs,” he said. “The atmosphere here is very good.”

Tyler LaDuron of SNB-Stanton was chosen as MVP in the tourney for his overall play.