L'ANSE - From Little League on up, baseball coaches can be heard preaching at every level - "don't give away free outs."
For all participants in the Pat's Foods and L'Anse Lakers battle of attrition at L'Anse Field Tuesday, the 21-11 win by the Lakers will always serves as the prime example for why.
L'Anse took advantage of 12 free bases from wild pitches/passed balls and stole another eight bags thanks to fielding errors to pour on the runs in softball fashion and improve its Twilight League record to 2-2. The Lakers returned the favor occasionally though, committing three errors of their own, including a misfielded pop-up that turned into a three-run homer when the Pat's cleanup hitter Lee Naugle was given a second life at the plate.
L'Anse third baseman Travis Tollefson throws out a Pat's Foods runner Tuesday during their Twilight League game at L’Anse. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
The pinball scoring came to a halt when the 10-run mercy rule kicked into effect in the bottom of the sixth inning as L'Anse's Jake Jaeger lined one over the fence for a two-run trot.
"First game at the home field this season, you had everybody hitting, that was a great win," L'Anse manager Larry Lindlbauer said.
"We have such good team speed, that we can really capitalize on those passed balls and a couple of those errors."
"Sometimes we can definitely kill ourselves," Pat's manager Marco Guidotti added. "There were too many errors tonight."
Pat's was hamstrung from the beginning as normal catcher Andrew Ewer was called away at the last minute to go into work, leaving backup Brent Jurmu to scramble into the catchers gear and behind the plate.
Throw in a big, looping curveball from starting pitcher Zach Hill (five strikeouts, five walks) and there were a few too many dashes to the backstop in the first couple of innings as the Lakers scored 13 runs through the first three frames.
"We were missing our regular catcher, it definitely makes it a bit more difficult," Guidotti said. "It is tough to get on the same page the first night behind the plate like that. But I thought Brent did a nice job jumping around back there."
L'Anse never gave Pat's room to breathe either, as the lineup produced top to bottom with nine different Lakers recording hits.
Catcher Joe Richards enjoyed an explosive day out of the three-hole with a two-run homer, double, single and four total RBIs, while the bottom third of the order produced eight hits with Jeff Roth's three singles and three runs scored leading the way.
The Lakers banged out 17 hits in total.
"We have such a big team, so to get them all in and to have them hit the way they did, that is just awesome," Lindlbauer said. "Some of these younger guys are gaining confidence too now. Jeff Roth, going 3-for-4 today, that is just great."
Pat's actually held a brief lead in the game as the Hancock team put up a four-run first inning thanks to C.J. Lepisto's no-doubter to left-center and some timely hitting from Clint Heikkila and Dan Pertile that made L'Anse pitcher Kris Turunen's night difficult.
The loss drops Pat's to 2-2 in the league standings, trailing Stanton.
"We have a lot of guys on the team who can hit some solid balls," Guidotti said. "It makes pretty much any game in contention for us."