Wildcat champs: SNB-Stanton earns victory in Durocher Tournament title game

Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette Members of Superior National Bank-Stanton pose after winning the Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament Sunday afternoon by defeating Dean Kangas-State Farm in Stanton.

STANTON — For the second year in a row and the third time in four years, Superior National Bank-Stanton (SNB) won the annual Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament, which is named in SNB-Stanton’s player manager Daron Durocher’s father’s name.

On Sunday, they defeated their Copper Country Twilight League foes Dean Kangas-State Farm, 6-0.

Not only did the hometown favorites win the championship, but they did so with stellar defense. In their three tournament games over the weekend, they allowed no runs. On Friday, they defeated Garnet Garage, 3-0, and on Saturday, they outscored the Tri-City North Stars from Negaunee, 7-0.

“Our pitching certainly helped,” said Daron Durocher. “Eli (Luoma) threw strong on Friday. Tyler (LaDuron) struck out 13 or 14 yesterday, and today Justin Kirby threw strong.”

In his complete-game shutout, Kirby struck out five and walked two. He was backed by a steady SNB-Stanton offense that scored one run in each of the first four innings and two more in the sixth.

Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette Superior National Bank-Stanton’s Daron Durocher is thrown out at home during the championship game of the Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament.

In the bottom of the first, Kirby helped his own cause with a double to left center off of State Farm’s starter Brady Turner. Two batters later, first baseman Eric Nettell brought him in on a hard hit single to the left side of the State Farm infield.

In the second, with bases loaded, Daron Durocher hit into a fielder’s choice to first, but it was enough to bring Josh Koskela across home plate to make the score 2-0.

SNB-Stanton made it 3-0 in the third. After another base hit by Nettell and another by Luoma, Turner walked Trent Keteri to load the bases for catcher Kevin Bostwick. He walked, forcing run number three to cross the plate.

In the fourth, Nettell had another RBI hit up the middle which scored shortstop LaDuron to make the score 4-0.

“We had our chances,” said State Farm’s player-manager Brian Juopperi, ” we just couldn’t put it all together. We left too many men on base.”

Their best scoring opportunity came in the fourth, as State Farm had the bases loaded with one out, but they could not get a run on the board as they flied out and grounded out to end the inning.

In the sixth, the bat of Nettell came to the rescue once again. After a Daron Durocher single and a LaDuron walk, Nettell slapped a fastball just past the second baseman for a two-RBI hit, which pushed the lead to 6-0.

For their strong hitting and pitching over the weekend, Nettell and Kirby were named co-MVPs of the Durocher tournament. They were honored with a small plaque after the game.

“They combined for many hits during the tournament and brought in a lot of key runs,” said Daron Durocher. “As well, Kirby pitched great today.”

Despite the loss, Juopperi had only good things to say about the weekend, which featured six teams and even an old-timer’s game before the championship game Sunday.

“As always, it was a fun tournament,” he said. “We had great weather, and it was just a great weekend to play baseball.”