Eskymos deal payback to Marinette Marines

ESCANABA – When dealing with a low scoring affair in baseball, the team who makes the fewest mistakes tends to get the win. The Marinette, Wis. Marines waited all night for the Escanaba Eskymos to make one, but it never happened and the Eskymos claimed the 2-0 victory.

“In a 2-0 game, it comes to a lot of little things,” said Eskymos coach Kirk Schwalbach. “We only had seven hits, but I thought we hit it hard for the most part and we played good defense.”

Escanaba put up its first run in the bottom of the first when Nick Vandermissen drew a walk and Brandon Punzel followed it with a base hit to send Vandermissen to third. Bailey Lamb belted out an RBI single to give the Eskymos the early 1-0 lead.

Strong defensive play from both teams kept it a one-run ball game until the bottom of the fifth. Vandermissen hit a ground ball that appeared to be an easy out, but the Marines committed an error and he reached first base.

Marines pitcher Ty Bebo attempted to pick off Vandermissen, who was leading off. The throw was high and the first baseman had trouble fielding it, which allowed Vandermissen to get all the way to third base. Punzel earned another base hit that sent the runner home to score the second and final run of the game.

“Last year, we were really young and we made a lot of mistakes that kept teams in games or took us out of games,” Schwalbach said. “We’re not doing that this year. They’ve matured a lot.”

Pitcher Ben Kleiman finished the game with eight strikeouts and only gave up four hits for the Eskymos. He was 18 for 25 on first-pitch strikes.

“Ben pitched a great game,” Schwalbach added. “He was just dominant, that’s all you can say. He made quality pitches and got himself ahead of nearly every batter. That was the best I’ve ever seen him pitch.”

Kleiman pitched against the Marines last year, and it was a much different result. Escanaba fell 13-1 to Marinette. Schwalbach said he gave the ball back to Kleiman again this year, and he obviously wanted to step up and prove times have changed.

“This time it was on the home field,” Kleiman said. “I wanted to show the crowd I could play and come back from last year. It was a good day.”

With the loss, Marinette falls to 7-5.

“We’ve been struggling to hit the ball and it showed again today,” said Marines coach Dave Francour. “It’s been the story of our season. Good pitching and good defense today. We can’t consistently get back-to-back hits, and that’s been a battle for us. We’ve got to manufacture runs.”

He added that besides the mistakes in the fifth inning, he felt they played sound defense.

“It was a good game for us, but Escanaba is a good team,” he said. “Our pitcher threw strikes, and we made the plays on the field except for the two errors. It should have been a 1-0 ball game.”

Escanaba (9-2) resumes today at Marquette.