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Monday July 22, 2024
TAKE TWO: Esky Baseball Sweeps Make-Up Games

Click the thumbnail to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game interviews

After almost a week of rain and snow, the Escanaba High School baseball team was happy to be back on the field Friday night as the Eskymos hosted two different teams in make-up games. It was a cold, windy night, with not much sunshine, but the Eskymos managed to pull out two wins, beating the Iron Mountain Mountaineers, 8-2, and then turning back the Manistique Emeralds, 8-0.


Against Iron Mountain, freshman Lenny Peacock allowed two hits over five innings of pitching to pick up the win. Against Manistique, Ben Johnson threw five shutout innings and struck out ten batters as the Eskymos pulled away from a scoreless game with eight runs over the middle three innings.


In the first game, Iron Mountain pitcher Niko Burgoon was staked to a 1-0 lead after Ian Martilla had a two-out RBI single in the opening inning.

He didn't get much help from his defense, though, as a dropped fly ball in right field brought home Escanaba's first two runs.

Meanwhile, Escanaba's defense was good, as the Eskymos turned a 6-4-3 double play in the top of the third inning after Evan Haferkorn drew a one-out walk.


Escanaba built a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third when Matt Kaven came through with a two-out run-scoring hit, and then in the fourth inning, Bon LaChance smacked a two-run double to left field to give the Eskymos a 5-1 lead.

“Niko came with a curveball, missed inside, then he threw the same pitch and I just smoked it,” LaChance said.


He says it was different facing Burgoon than the pitcher he faced last week, when he faced Brayden Olson from St. Croix Falls High School. Olson is committed to Purdue University from the Big Ten, and he shut the Eskymos down on one base hit. LaChance had that one base hit.


“It was a good experience, and to get a hit off him felt great,” LaChance said, then added, “I also got beaned. It was a fastball right in the chest. He got me good!”


Peacock worked five innings to earn the win, allowing one run on two hits. He struck out seven batters and walked five. Eli Gardner threw the final two innings, allowing one run on one hit and two walks.


Burgoon talk the loss, throwing 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits. He walked three and struck out three. Carson McLean threw 1 2/3 innings of relief, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks. He struck out three batters, before Aiden Ellis got the final two outs for the Mountaineers.


Besides Martilla's RBI single, the only other IM base hit was an infield single by Evan Mendini in the top of the seventh inning. Escanaba had eight hits, two of them by LaChance. Kaven also had two base hits.


Iron Mountain was playing just its second game of the season, both of them losses to Escanaba.


In the evening game, Johnson was locked in a pitcher's duel with Manistique's Isaiah Brow for three innings. Finally, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Eskymos scored three runs to grab the lead, as Chase Cloutier put down a bunt single and Nolan Bink got an infield single for his first-ever varsity single. Then Nick Chiu came through with a two-out, two-run single from the #9 hole, to make it a 3-0 lead.

“I felt really good today, hitting, in both games actually,” Chiu said. “I was getting good pieces of the ball. Nothing much better I can ask for than that. I was just thinking fastball the whole time. As soon as it came in that spot, I hit it, and it went right up the middle. It felt good.”


Escanaba added three more runs in the fifth inning, two of them when Bink's fly ball that would have ended the inning scored on a dropped fly ball in right field.


Johnson ended up striking up ten batters in five innings of work, allowing only a third inning single by Ryan McEvers. Johnson did not walk any batters, and he worked quickly.

“I was just trying to get into a rhythm,” Johnson said about his fast delivery. “Finally throwing some strikes. I had an arm issue last week. Finally started throwing some bullpen this week, and so he (Coach Scott Hanson) told me to come out here and throw strikes, and it felt good. Just throwing the fastball, and I mixed in my curve a little bit. It felt good throwing that.”


Brow deserved better, but his defense let him down. He ended up throwing 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks. He struck out five batters. Parker Graphos came on to get the final two outs of the sixth inning.


Trent Turchin threw the final two innings in relief for the Eskymos. He hit a batter and another was safe on an error, but otherwise, didn't allow another runner.


Gardner and LaChance both had two hits for Escanaba in the game against Manistique.


It was the season-opener for Manistique, also thanks to the weather conditions.


Escanaba improved to 5-2 on the season, heading into prom weekend. The Eskymos have road games on Monday at Bark River-Harris, Wednesday at Kingsford, and Thursday at Negaunee, before hosting North Central next Friday.

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