Breaking ties: REL earns Twilight League season title with win over SNB-Stanton
STANTON — Headed into Tuesday night’s final game of the regular season, REL Inc.-Mohawk Technology was tied for first place with Superior National Bank-Stanton in the Copper Country Twilight League’s standings. In just one inning, REL killed two birds with one stone. They won the game, 2-1, and stayed on top by finishing the season with a 10-4 record.
Stanton fell to 9-5 with the loss, earning the second seed for next week’s playoffs.
The all-important inning was the top of the sixth inning. Up until that frame, REL’s starter, Al Jurmu, and SNB-Stanton’s hurler, Eli Luoma, had stymied any scoring on both sides of the diamond.
REL’s bats came alive starting with lead-off hitter Travis Pietila. The center fielder belted a triple off the right-centerfield fence. Catcher Grant Johnson brought him in a on double down the first-base line. Rory Anderson then came up with a single that put him at first. Johnson moved to third on the play.
Sam Kariniemi stepped up the plate and the left fielder blasted a hard grounder to short, which created an opportunity for Johnson to come home on the fielder’s choice.
SNB-Stanton mounted a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning but it was not enough. First baseman Josh Koskela started it off as he was hit by a pitch. He advanced to second on a passed ball and then to third on an Al Nettel ground out.
Koskela then came home on fielder’s choice hit to REL’s shortstop by Kevin Bostwick.
With momentum on their side, things were looking up for SNB-Stanton, but unforuntately the third out came next in the form of foul-ball fly out and the game was over. They came up a run short.
“This is exciting,” said REL’s player-manager Tyler Loukus in light of the big victory. “Our bats just came alive there in the sixth, and that’s all we needed. We were certainly helped by good pitching from Al and a strong defense with no errors.”
SNB-Stanton’s player-assistant manager, Tom Durocher, gave credit where credit was due.
“They (REL) strung their hits together, and we didn’t despite a great performance by Eli on the mound,” he said.
Next week, Twilight League playoff action will begin on Tuesday at both Stanton and the Driving Park. The top-seeded REL will face the No. 4-seeded Garnet Garage and the No. 2-seeded SNB-Stanton will take on the No. 3 seeded Dean Kangas-State Farm. Both series will be a best-of-three playoff. The winners of those two match up will play for the championship in a best-of-three series beginning the following week.