Tough sledding: Flames struggle in Mid Pen playoffs, score no runs

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette The Flames’ Eli Oldt delivers a pitch during a game against the Blues on June 10 at the Hancock Driving Park. The Flames, who split with the Blues back in June, lost to them over the weekend in the Mid Pen League playoffs.

MARQUETTE — To say it was a difficult weekend for the relatively young American Legion Post 186 Copper Country Flames in the Mid Pen League playoffs in Marquette, would be an understatement. In the opener, things looked good in the bottom of the first inning as the Flames had the Marquette Blues dead to rights with two outs, only to give up 21 straight runs in a 21-0 loss. In their second game, the Flames were again held off the board in a 5-0 loss to the Menominee Red Wave.

“(Marquette was) just one of those games,” said coach Jim Cortright. “In the first inning, we had two outs, no one on and two strikes on the third batter. They scored six runs on hits and it only got worse.”

Starting pitcher Tanner Lane walked four straight batters and had thrown a total of 36 pitches before he was pulled in favor of Carter Nettell. Nettell struggled to do much better, surrendering seven runs over 1 1/3 with five walks and three hits.

Sam Kiiskila was then brought in to try to stem the tide, but he tossed 41 pitches, walking four and surrendering four hits as part of a 13-run third inning that saw the Blues put the game far out of reach for the Flames.

Patrick Cortright finally settled things down over the final 1 2/3 innings, striking out three on just 18 pitches and keeping the Blues from getting any batters on base.

To make matters worse for the Flames, their top four batters went a combined 0-for-8.

Nettell, Cortright, and Brody Budweg were the only Flames to pick up hits in the contest.

The elder Cortright felt that the Flames played much better against the Red Wave.

“Although we didn’t win Game Two against Menominee, the team played well,” said Jim. “We faced Matt Defosse, their ace. Menominee was saving him for the championship game, but they were forced to use him after losing to Negaunee.”

Against the Red Wave, Nettell got the start and he was strong, going five innings, striking out eight and holding Menominee to just one hit.

“Carter Nettell pitched very well,” said Jim. “He pitched five innings of one-hit, one earned run baseball.”

Patrick Cortright drove the offense for the Flames. He went 3-for-3 with a triple, a double, and a single. Cortright’s triple was a one-bouncer off the 400-ft wall in center. His double tracked its way to the left field fence, and his single was on a line drive to left.

Justin Norkol went 2-for-4 in the leadoff spot.

This weekend, the Flames are back in action in Escanaba at the Zone Tournament.