Learning opportunity: Garnet falls to State Farm, 11-3

Jamie Glenn/Daily Mining Gazette Dean Kangas-State Farm’s Brady Turner connects with a pitch during a game against Garnet Garage in Twilight League play Thursday in Stanton

STANTON — The sun came out just in time for a Copper Country Twilight League matchup between a younger Garnet Garage and a much older, more experienced Dean Kangas-State Farm squad. State Farm used a strong third inning, en route to an 11-3 win on Thursday at Stanton Field.

“We were patient at the plate,” said State Farm player-manager Brian Juopperi. “We took a few walks, made the pitchers pitch and made some good contact on the ball.”

A 0-0 game going into the third quickly changed into a big lead for State Farm. Travis Wesa singled. Austin Kinnunen followed with a walk. Brian Juopperi then walked to load the bases. Luke Paul then walked to bring a run home. Scott Pietila then knocked two runs with a deep single to right. Paul also scored before the inning was over to put State Farm up 4-0.

“That (third) inning was a big inning,” said Juopperi. “I think Travis started us off with a single and we had a couple of guys hit the ball hard and scored a bunch of runs.”

Juopperi was also pleased with the consistency of the bats for State Farm in the later innings.

Jamie Glenn/Daily Mining Gazette Dean Kangas-State Farm’s Dave Wesa delivers a pitch during a game against Garnet Garage Thursday in Stanton.

“In the fifth inning we scored a couple.” he said. “Travis started off with a big hit and Scotty (Wesa came up) with a big home run.”

In the fourth, State Farm added to their advantage as Travis Wesa led off with a single. Juopperi also singled two batters later. Scott Wesa reached on an error. All three scored on a fly ball from Brady Turner.

Garnet, who did not have a hit until the bottom of the fourth, made their hits count quickly. Will Romano singled. Two batters later, Reid Heathman also singled. Both scored before the inning came to a close.

In the fifth, Garnet struck again as Justin Norkol singled and later scored on a single by Heathman to cut the lead to 7-3.

Scott Wesa put a cap on the Garnet rally with a home run in the sixth, which shut down the hosts from that point forward.

In the seventh, Dave Wesa reached on an error to spark State Farm a final time. Jason Koski followed with a double. Kinnunen singled two batters later, and all three crossed home plate, two on errors, and State Farm pushed their advantage to eight, 11-3.

Despite some mistakes that led to runs, Garnet manager Joe Romano was pleased with areas of his team’s game.

“We’re getting better defensively,” said coach Romano. “(With) all the kids got in, we’re (just) young. They (State Farm) hit the ball well, (but we made) a few mistakes. Our pitching guys are young and haven’t been pitching (as long as) regular teams and don’t get all the innings like everybody else.

“We’re doing okay. I’m impressed. For a first-year team, the kids are getting better and better every week. If we can get our same infield every time, we’re a very good defensive team. Any pitcher is going to have good support.”

“We have a strong outfield,” said Romano. “Offensively, the kids are learning. A lot of them are coming out of high school. Who sees curve balls like what these guys (Dean Kangas) are throwing? We’re going to be okay.”

Both teams will play again on Tuesday with Garnet Garage traveling to Superior National Bank-Stanton and Dean Kangas-State Farm facing off against REL Inc.-Mohawk Technology.