• American Legion States 7/29: Escanaba 6, Clinton 3
  • American Legion States 7/29: Gladstone 9, Gaylord 3
  • American Legion States 7/29: Trenton 12, Marquette 1
5137 articles
Wednesday August 17, 2022
Escanaba Cubs Make First State Tourney Since 2016

Click the tumbnails to see interviews with Escanaba's Bon LaChance and Marquette's Pete VandenAvond

ESCANABA---
For the first time since 2016, the Escanaba Cubs are heading to the American Legion State Tournament.

 

A shorthanded Cubs team qualified by stunning the heavily-favored Copper Country Flames, 14-7, in the U.P. Zone Five semifinals Saturday in Escanaba.

 

The Cubs later lost to the defending state champion Marquette Blues in the Zone championship game, 12-7. But the Blues and the Cubs will compete in the Class A state tournament in the Detroit suburb of Trenton starting on Thursday.

 

Escanaba erased the memory of last summer's meltdown against Copper Country, when the Cubs led, 10-0, only to lose, 15-13, and blow a trip to the state tournament.

 

The Cubs turned the trick on Saturday despite being severely shorthanded, with two players, Nick Kolich and Jarrett Olsen, having been kicked out of the tournament on Friday for unsportsmanlike language. Also, Ben Johnson missed the Zones because he had wisdom teeth removed, and perhaps the team's best player, Hunter Lancour, is out for the season with a torn hamstring after suffering an injury in Gaylord.

 

Still, the younger guys pulled together and found a way to beat the Flames, who had lost only one game all season (17-1) and were undefeated in this Zone tournament.

 

Copper Country ace pitcher Nick Horning, who's been battling injuries since the high school season, threw just two-thirds of an inning before being unable to keep throwing. The Cubs took advantage, scoring four runs, Jack McEvers doubling in a run, and Chase Cloutier and Tony Derkos both singled in runs.

 

Escanaba took a 7-0 lead in the second inning as Nick Chiu doubled in one run, Bon LaChance brought one in with a sacrifice fly, and Cloutier grounded home a run.

 

That gave LaChance a cushion on the mound, and he needed it. He wiggled out of bases loaded jams unscathed in the first and third innings before the Flames finally scored in the bottom of the fourth. They put four runs on the board to close to within 7-4, with a dropped third strike, a walk, an error, and a Dylan Horning base hit scoring the runs.

 

Escanaba, though, answered with seven runs in the top of the fifth to go ahead, 14-4. Derkos had another RBI single, and Trent Turcin singled home two runs at the bottom of the order to make it 10-4. McEvers had a sacrifice fly, and LaChance helped his own cause with a run-scoring base hit to left. That made it 12-4, and then an error and an RBI single by Parker Frappier put the Cubs ahead by ten.

 

LaChance, with his pitch count mounting in his longest outing of the season, gave up a two-run double to Kade Farrell in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Gaborik Carlson followed with an RBI single to make it a 14-7 game.

 

LaChance maxed out at 106 pitches, bringing in young lefty Nick Chiu, who threw the final three innings to earn the save. The two combined to allow nine hits and issued seven walks, and hit three batters. They struck out seven batters.

 

In all, the Cubs had 13 base hits in the game against Nick Horning, Cam Cischke, and Henry Switzer.

 

Marquette defeated Gladstone, 10-4, in the other semifinal (see separate story on this web page), and that set up a rematch between the Blues and Cubs in the championship game. Friday's contest is the one that Escanaba had to forfeit on Friday because they only had eight position players (two ejected and two injured).

 

The championship game didn't have much intensity, with both teams already assured of spots in the state tournament, and with both teams short on pitching.

 

Escanaba scored two in the top of the first inning when Marquette pitcher Keith Judici walked three batters, and two of them scored on a Cloutiet groundout.

 

Marquette got four runs in the bottom of the first off of Cloutier, who was pitching for the Cubs. Two walks, a hit batter, and an error highlighted that four-run inning, with Dakota Maki's two-run single being the only base hit.

 

The Blues went up 8-2 with another four-run inning in the second. Parker Maki singled in one run, Pete VandenAvond doubled in another, and the next two runs came home on a passed ball and on a Dakota Maki grounder.

 

Escanaba closed to within 8-6 in the fourth inning when Turchin and Eli Garnder both got base hits, and Chiu's ground ball scored Turchin. Gardner scored on a McEvers sacrifice fly. LaChance followed with a double, and he later scored on a passed ball.

 

Marquette, however, scored two runs on an error and a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning, and then Nash Riipi singled home a run to make it 11-6. The 12th Marquette run came home on an error, making the score 12-6.

 

Judici threw three innings, using 61 pitches and allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits. VandenAvond came on to pitch in the fourth inning, and he worked the final four innings, allowing four hits and two runs (both unearned).

 

For Escanaba, Cloutier threw the first three innings, allowing 12 runs (nine earned) on just four base hits. He walked seven and struck out three.

 

Young Copper Curtis, a Manistique boy on the Cubs roster, came on to pitch in the fourth inning. He tossed three innings and did not allow a run, yielding two hits.

 

Marquette repeats as Zone Five Upper Peninsula champions, and now the Blues will look to repeat as state champions. For Escanaba, they're happy to be heading to the state tournament for the first time since 2016, when it was held at Adrian College.

 

We'll have more details on the state tournament when they become available.
 







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BUZZ-SAW ALERT: Blues Beaten By Powerhouse
Friday July 29, 2022
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