Moving on up: Timely hitting and a strong showing from Koski lifts Dean Kangas-State Farm over Wolverine-Orbit, 10-2
WOLVERINE — Dean Kangas-State Farm has been here before.
Two years after winning the Twilight League playoff title, State Farm punched their ticket back to the championship series with their second win in two nights over Wolverine-Orbit, 10-2, Wednesday night at Wolverine Field.
State Farm had contributions throughout their lineup as eight of their nine batters had at least one hit and all nine found their way on base at least once as their offense shone on a night where the threat of rain hung over the field for multiple innings.
With the offense clicking, State Farm has become a tough team to stop, as they scored 15 runs in their two-game sweep of Wolverine. They also took advantage of strings of timely hits and placed several of them into places where the ball dropped just out of reach of Wolverine defenders.
“Timely hitting, that has kind of been our thing all year,” said State Farm manager Brian Juopperi. “[We] just get guys on base and hopefully come up with the big hit.
“Top to bottom, that’s huge, especially when the bottom of the order starts hitting and turns it over to get to the top of the order. That was big; the bottom of the order really came through for us.”
Brady Turner led the way by going 3 for 5 with two singles and a double. Jason Koski also did well, going 3 for 4 with three singles and an RBI.
Koski was also tough on the mound, surrendering only two hits and two walks on the night.
“Jason has pitched a lot of big games in his career,” said Juopperi. “We went to him in Game Two. I knew he could do the job and he did it.”
On the opposite side of the field, an issue that Wolverine battled with all season reared its head for the second straight night as they struggled to come with any timely hits of their own.
“It’s been pretty much the story all season,” said Wolverine manager Luke Paul. “We’ve been getting guys on base and have not been able to get them in.”
On Tuesday, Wolverine had the bases loaded and failed to get a hit to bring any runners home. Wednesday night, they ran into that problem again while trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Paul reached on an error. Zach Hill then singled. Matt Donley reached on a fielder’s choice. Brody Budweg loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch with two out. With Darren Bausano at the plate, Budweg was caught off the bag at first, ending the threat and the inning.
“It’s just costly mistakes, too,” said Paul. “We can’t run ourselves out of innings, especially with bases loaded. We’re down and we got picked off. It’s tough because you want to make plays, but you get a little too amped up. You can’t score them all in one.”
State Farm broke up a scoreless tie in the second inning when they found ways to get to Wolverine starting pitcher Coy Budweg.
Morgan Impala reached on a defensive error in left field and got to second on the play. Koski then legged out a single. Scott Pietila then singled to center field to score Impala. Dan Juopperi then singled to bring Koski home and putting State Farm up 2-0.
Turner then singled with a bloop hit to center field, loading the bases. Dave Wesa singled to left field to score two more runs. Kyle Storm drove a single to center field to score two more, putting State Farm up 6-0.
Up 6-1 in the fifth, State Farm picked up two more runs. The first came when Brian Juopperi doubled to right field and then later scored on a passed ball. The second came shortly after when T.J. Kilpela scored on a single by Pietila.
In the sixth inning, Turner doubled to the right field fence to lead off for State Farm. After Wesa singled, Storm sacrificed to bring Turner home. Wesa later scored on a single by Koski on his third hit of the night.
With the win, State Farm is off until next Tuesday when they face the winner of the other semifinal series between Superior National Bank-Stanton and REL Inc./Mohawk Technologies. If they face SNB-Stanton, they will open the series at Stanton Field Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. If they face REL, they will play at the Hancock Driving Park on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.