Jets baseball comeback to topple Miners, win district title

Jeffers pitcher Levi Frahm delivers a pitch during a Division 4 District 97 tournament semifinal game against Ironwood Friday at Stanton Field. (Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette)

STANTON — It did not take the Gogebic Miners very long to build off a 16-1 win over the Ontonagon Gladiators during the semifinals of the Division 4 District 97 tournament at Stanton Friday afternoon. However, despite the fast start, they could not sustain the momentum they built, and the host Jeffers Jets chipped away until their bats caught enough fire for the Jets to score four straight times to earn the district title, 4-1.

Jets coach Luke Paul felt that it was just a matter of time before his hitters found a way to turn loud outs into hits against Miners starting pitcher Antonio Delfavero.

“They knew they could hit this guy,” Paul said. “Gogebic’s pitcher was throwing really well, so it’s all about knowing that we can hit him. We were making good contact, and, just like last game, we were just waiting for that ball to fall. We scraped together a couple of runs, and that’s all we needed.”

The Jets got to Delfavero just once in the opening inning, but starting pitcher Kyle Heltunen only got as far as second base before the inning ended on a ground out by first baseman Levi Frahm.

In the bottom half of the first, the Miners struck quickly. Gabe Harju reached on a defensive error at second base. Harju getting on base and then stealing second seemed to get to Heltunen on the mound, and he came around to score two batters later, giving the Miners the lead.

Between the end of the first inning and the start of the second, Paul sat his players down and challenged them to get past their sluggish start and refocus in the second. While the Jets’ bats did not immediately spring to life, they started to show some spark.

Third baseman Cody Turner drew a walk to open the inning. Shortstop Trevor Halonen sacrificed with a bunt to move Turner into scoring position. Second baseman Luis Larson then sacrificed to put Turner just 90 feet from tying the game. Center fielder Chase Kinnunen then singled to right field, which brought Turner home, tying the game at 1-1.

In the bottom of the second, Heltunen surrendered a single and then struck out two consecutive batters, only to give up a single and then a walk to Harju, loading the bases.

Paul pulled Cody in to pitch at that point, moving Heltunen to third in his place. Turner got the Jets out of the two-out jam and the inning.

It was the second time Friday that Paul had to turn to Cody, and both times, the move proved pivotal in rallying the Jets. In their 6-4 semifinal win over Ironwood, Turner pitched the final inning. In the championship game, he threw until the sixth inning, after striking out two batters in a row, but reaching his pitch limit for the day.

“Cody has been one of our better pitchers this year just because he throws hard, and he throws strikes,” said Paul. “So, you’re putting that together with the (fact that) guys aren’t used to seeing (pitching velocity) like Cody’s. He can throw that fastball, and takes guys good one time around the bat or two to catch up to it. By that time, it’s already two innings at bat, so he’s been pitching really well.”

Cody kept the Miners’ bats at bay, striking out nine before handing the ball over to Frahm to finish the contest. Frahm, who went four innings earlier in the day against Ironwood, got two strikeouts in the final four batters to close the game out.

The Jets got two runs in the top of the third to help their pitching out. Left fielder Brogan Turner got things started by reaching on an error. The same error led to Turner getting all the way around to third. Catcher Simon Rajala then walked and stole second to get into scoring position. Frahm sacrificed to score Brogan, and Cody walked. The fourth ball ended up as a wild pitch, allowing Rajala to score and giving the Jets a 3-1 lead.

In the fifth, the Jets were looking for some insurance and got it when Rajala walked with one out. Heltunen and Frahm both walked, loading the bases. After Cody struck out, Halonen stepped to the plate. During the at bat, Rajala stole home, giving the Jets the insurance run they needed to put the game out of reach.

Jets top Ironwood, 9-4

In a game that only saw scoring in three innings, the Jets jumped out to a big lead early, found themselves behind in the fourth, only to regain the lead in the bottom half of the inning, and then later extending their lead to win the game and advance to the championship.

The Jets struck in the bottom of the first inning when Rajala was hit by a pitch, Heltunen followed with a single and Frahm singled, loading the bases. Cody was hit by a pitch, scoring Rajala. Heltunen scored when Halonen was walked. With the bases still loaded, Larson reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Frahm in the process.

The Ironwood Red Devils found a way to fight back in the top of the fourth, after the bottom of their order struck out on 13 pitches by Frahm in the third.

Landon Buerger walked. Ruckus Betlewski followed with a single, which was the first hit of the game for Ironwood. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, putting them both in scoring position. Ethan Gallo then singled to right field, scoring both Buerger and Betlewski.

Later, with the bases loaded, C.J. Feezor brought both Parker Osterman and Cody Debb home. The Red Devils led 4-3 at that point.

Bryson Kangas reached on a defensive error to open the bottom half of the fourth, and that started the Jets’ rally. Brogan singled. Rajala advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Heltunen singled to right field, scoring Kangas. Frahm then singled to right field to knock Brogan home. A defensive error then allowed Heltunen to score, putting Jeffers up 6-4.

The Jets added three more in the sixth when Rajala, Heltunen, and Frahm all crossed the plate.

Up next

The Jets will travel to Norway to face the Knights on Wednesday.


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