Off on the right foot

SNB-Stanton tops REL-Mohawk Technologies to take 1-0 series lead

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette Superior National Bank-Stanton's first baseman Josh Koskela connects with a pitch from REL Inc./Mohawk Technologies' pitcher Alan Jurmu during the first inning of a playoff game Tuesday at Stanton Field.

STANTON — In a best-of-three playoff series, the team that wins the first game has a considerable advantage in the series as it moves forward. On Tuesday night, Superior National Bank-Stanton did enough to earn a victory in its first-round Twilight League playoff series, 4-2, over REL Inc./Mohawk Technologies Tuesday night at Stanton Field.

The win was the fifth straight for SNB-Stanton, who appears to be peaking right when they want to be.

“We’ve gotten into a little groove here,” said SNB-Stanton manager Daron Durocher. “Hopefully we can stay in it… We may not be beating people really convincingly, but we are winning.”

SNB-Stanton was led offensively by Cole Jepsen, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI and Tyler LaDuron, who went 3 for 3 with an RBI.

“I am in the two-spot to get guys in or advance runners,” said Jepsen. “It’s my job and it is nice to be able to do that.”

REL took an early 1-0 lead when starting pitcher Alan Jurmu singled to bring Grant Johnson home. Johnson had reached on an error to open the game as Durocher and SNB-Stanton starting pitcher Justin Kirby struggled early with their rhythm. Durocher and Kirby were not on the same page and it showed.

“I haven’t pitched him a ton, but when I have, it has been with Al [Nettell] instead of me,” said Durocher. “We didn’t warm up a ton before the game, so I didn’t get to see what the curveball did, and I missed one and it turned out to be a run.”

After that first inning, however, Kirby found a groove, allowing only five baserunners over the remainder of the contest and none after the third inning while racking up six of his nine strikeouts on the night.

“Wow, did he get into a groove,” said Durocher. “We both got comfortable together. I started moving, he started hitting me, and then the curveball starting working. He commanded it. He got into a groove and it got fun.”

In the bottom half of the first inning, SNB-Stanton’s offense rallied to their pitcher’s aid, racking up three runs and then never looked back.

After Durocher walked, Jepsen drilled a fastball from Jurmu to the center field fence, scoring Durocher on the play. LaDuron then doubled to the left field fence to bring Jepsen home.

Eric Nettell then singled to right field to bring LaDuron home to put SNB-Stanton up 3-1.

In the second inning, Carter Nettell led off with a double to right field. After Jonathan Bostwick moved Nettell to third with a sacrifice, Durocher brought him home with a sacrifice fly.

Jepsen then doubled to the left field fence and LaDuron singled, but Kirby grounded out to end the threat.

“Fastballs,” said Jepsen when asked about what he saw on each of his doubles. “The first one, I just went with the pitch. The second one I was able to turn on and drive it somewhere. Both of them were drivable pitches and that was what I was able to do.”

REL did get one run back in the third when Luke Peterson walked and later scored after Brent Loukus got to second when SNB-Stanton right fielder Eli Luoma dropped a fly ball in right field.

That was as close as they would get.

SNB-Stanton threatened again in the bottom of the fifth when LaDuron picked up his third hit of the night with a single. He was caught stealing second and the hosts could not get another baserunner on before Jurmu struck out Eric Nettell.

With the win, SNB-Stanton can earn a series sweep with a win on Thursday night at the Hancock Driving Park. If REL wins Thursday, the teams will meet again on Saturday at Stanton Field.