Bulldogs baseball buries Patriots, 13-1

Eddie O'Neill/Daily Mining Gazette Hancock’s Todd Kilpela tags a fast ball from Westwood’s pitcher Isak Ruspakka in the third inning of their game at the Driving Park in Hancock.

HANCOCK — Postseason baseball got underway Tuesday across the state of Michigan. In MHSSA Division 3 District 65 action, the Hancock Bulldogs welcomed the Westwood Patriots for an opening game. The visit was a short one as the Bulldogs sent the Patriots home early with a 13-1 mercy-rule win at the end of five innings.

This one was really won after just three innings as the Bulldogs (20-5) scored a whopping 12 runs and moved a 1-1 tie to a 13-1 lead and eventual victory.

Hancock coach Travis Pietila summed up the third inning best by saying, “We capitalized on the opportunities that they gave to us on errors.”

Swinging a big bat that inning and throughout the day was senior third baseman Ned Larson. He was 3-3 at the plate with four RBIs. This included an inside-the-park home run in the third.

Westwood struggled to get out of the inning by errant throws and missed plays that led to extra bases and extra runs.

Nearly every player in the Bulldogs’ lineup scored in the third.

Pietila added that strong pitching by Bryce Hanner was also key on Tuesday.

The senior right hander earned the win by going the distance and striking out eight and walking just three.

“Bryce gets ahead on the count with batters, and he can throw his curve for a strike,” said his coach. “He does that with consistency game in and game out.”

Up Next

While the Westwood Patriots’ season came to a close, the Bulldogs move onto District 65 semifinal play on Saturday. The finals will be held at Houghton High School with the Bulldogs facing the Houghton Gremlins at 10 a.m. and the Negaunee Miners taking on Iron Mountain at 12:30 p.m. The winners of those two games will play for the district title at 3:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs and the Gremlins (14-12) have met five times this season, and the Bulldogs have a 3-2 edge. However, it is often said that the postseason is a season all in itself – anything can happen.

Pietila says that strong at bats will be key for a win against their Copper Country rivals.

“We need to have quality at bats and make their opposing pitcher work as much as they can,” he said.


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