Pair of aces: Northern Michigan earns pair of wins in doubleheader

Jamie Glenn/Daily Mining Gazette Northern Michigan Land Brokers’ pitcher Melissa Baker delivers a pitch during a Copper Country Women’s Fastpitch Softball game at the Boneyard Wednesday.

LAKE LINDEN — The Northern Michigan Land Brokers topped the Crush/Diamond House international/Baby E’s BBQ in doubleheader action, 11-9 and 12-3, at the Boneyard in Lake Linden. The two teams fought in a close battle in the opener before Northern Michigan broke through in the nightcap.

“The first game we came out strong,” said Northern Michigan player-manager Melissa Baker. “We had a couple of errors in the field, but our bats were right where we needed them to be.”

Anna Gaffney started a string of hot bats for Northern Michigan (4-1 overall) with a long flyball RBI, bringing Baker and Isabelle Cleary home, giving them a 2-0 lead.

A line drive to right and a pop up to centerfield gave Ally Ronis and Makenzie Ekdahl opportunities to extend the lead to 4-0.

Josie Conners and Gaffney brought in two more for Northern Michigan with Conners coming in off a late outfield return and Gaffney slamming a solo home run over the fence in the third.

With two outs and looking for a third in the second inning, Baker surrendered a triple to Keirstyn Codere. Codere later scored to cut the lead down to three, 4-1.

Codere was back at it in the fifth, as she took advantage of a defensive error after reaching first after getting hit by Baker. During the error, she beat Baker to the plate, turning a five-run lead into a four-run one, 6-2.

Andrya Williamson reached on an error in the fifth and she proved costly as she later scored. Fayah Zapolnik was later hit by a pitch and Kali Demars got herself on base next. Both Zapolnik and Demars scored, drawing Crush (2-4 overall) within one, 6-5.

That was as close as Crush got though, as Northern Michigan struck five times in the final two innings to earn the win.

“The other team had quite the comeback, and we were able to hold them off, but they’re a good little team over there,” said Baker. “Our goal would be to see if we can beat Superior National Bank again (later in the season).”

Three more runs from Sarah Audette, Demars and Williamson pulled Crush back within one at 9-8 with one inning left to play.

Ronis walked and Baker singled get Northern Michigan going again in the seventh. Both later scored to push themselves further ahead at 11-8.

Ciara Neiswonger singled and later scored in the bottom of the seventh, but Crush could not find any further offense.

“We just need to sharpen up our base running. Our bats started coming later in the game,” said Crush manager Curtis Kinnunen. “Our outfield is good. It (was) hard battling the sun out there.

“(We need to not) make errors and (improve) our baserunning. We (needed to get) our bats going right away. They got a lot of outs just on baserunning, (so) we’ve got to fix that.”

In the nightcap, Crush scored three runs in the first inning, but could not string anything else together.

For Northern Michigan, Ronis had a strong game, getting on base four times and scoring three of those times. Connors, Gaffney and Kricia Jenkins all scored twice as well.

Cleary and Elisa Isaacson also found their way home with Cleary scoring in the third and Isaacson in the fourth as Northern Michigan forced the mercy rule in the fifth inning.