ESCANABA - Sometimes, even a baseball team needs a pick-me-up.
The Escanaba Legion baseball team received a confidence booster in the form of a 10-0 five inning win over Niagara, on Monday night.
"It's kind of the type of game that we needed," Escanaba head coach Tom Ohman said. "We needed a blowout. Niagara's young, but they're very good, too. It's just a good game for us to get on some kind of a roll, right now."
Bryce Derouin | Daily Press
Escanaba’s Devin Olsen delivers a warm-up pitch before the fourth inning, Monday at Al Ness Field. Olsen allowed zero runs and just four hits in five innings, against Niagara.
The Cubs got on a roll early on, scoring four runs in their first at-bats of the game.
After David Falish reached after being hit by a pitch and Hunter LaMarch got to first off of an error, Brandon Punzel drove in Falish for the RBI single. Then, it was LaMarch who was then sent home after Nick Vandermissen recorded an RBI off of a groundout. Bailey Lamb continued the offensive onslaught by drawing a walk, and eventually went on to score after Sean Bissell notched an RBI single. Tyler Skufca capped off the rally with a double, which allowed Bissell to score and make it 4-0.
"We hit the ball well one-through-nine, and even the kids we brought in from the bench, they made contact, too," Ohman said. "So hopefully things are looking up."
Lamb's two-run RBI single made it 6-0, in the third inning, and the Cubs got three more runs in the next inning, before Jack Valentine managed to make it to home, as Punzel grounded out to a fielder's choice, to enforce the 10-run mercy limit in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"That's a good baseball team we played," Niagara head coach Dale Blagec said. "We're just a junior legion team of mostly 15-year olds, but you gotta hit with them, and you gotta play baseball against them and you can't make errors."
Escanaba tallied seven hits, while Niagara was only able to muster four hits against Escanaba pitcher Devin Olsen, who was efficient all night and only needed 53 pitches to get through five innings.
"He's the bulldog. He's the ace of the staff and everybody follows his lead," Ohman said about Olsen. "Anytime you give him the ball, you know you're going to get a good performance. He threw first pitch strikes, and was getting ahead in the count and he was able to use his second and third pitches often, today."
As effective as Olsen was, the defense behind him was solid, too. The Cubs committed just one error, but the highlight was when the Escanaba defense managed to turn a 4-6-3 double play to close out the fifth inning.
"That was sweet. We've been turning a lot of double plays," Ohman said. "Hunter LaMarch has done a real nice job at short, and then Nick (Vandermissen) with the experience he has at second. We were quick and we executed the right way with our hands up. It was just very fundamentally sound."
For Niagara, a Legion program in just its second season of play, its program is not focused on the results, but instead, aiming to give the younger players the chance to gain experience.
"It's our second year in existence, and we're just trying to get our feet wet and play a little baseball," Blagec said. "We play against kids our own age, we'd be fine. I think we get intimidated a lot by the older boys, like the 19-year old college kids. We'll get over that in time. We'll be fine.
We're going to learn; we're going to keep taking our lumps. That's what we want to do. Play the better teams and do what we can."
As for Escanaba, they'll now set their sights on the weekend tournament in the Soo, where they will try to duplicate Monday's success, against more established programs.
"We will have tougher competition, but we'll see if we can do something special down there, too," Ohman said.