Escanaba Cubs excited to begin season today

ESCANABA – The Escanaba Cubs American Legion baseball team is set to dig in its cleats and get the season underway today as they travel to Green Bay, where they will take on the Green Bay Shockers in the first round of tournament play.

“Things are going good so far,” said Cubs manager Tom Ohman. “You can tell they have a lot of energy, they’re working hard, and they seem excited to get the Legion season going since (many of them) had a heartbreaking loss in the districts against Petoskey.

“They’ve been well coached, so we just have to make sure that they stay sharp. At least they have a chance to come back and play for a championship again.”

Of the 17 players on the Cubs’ roster, 13 of them played with the Escanaba Eskymos this year, so there won’t be a great deal of assembly needed. However, Ohman said that the level of effort his team is putting forth is important because of the talent level they are likely to go up against.

“(Hitting coach) Tony Punzel’s been working them pretty hard,” he said. “The competition gets a little harder now, because you’re playing teams that combine high schools to make one legion team.

“It’s a little more fast-paced. I hope some of our younger guys can slow it down.”

First baseman duties will be shared by Bailey Lamb, Devon Olsen, and Alex Ruatti, while second base will be manned by Nick Vandermissen.

“Nick has been a solid player for three years with the Legion,” Ohman said.

Third base will be either Tyler Skufca or Tim Lueneburg, and Escanaba’s aces on the mound will be Olsen and Ben Kleiman.

“They will be the two big arms,” he said. “(Olsen) is throwing the first game against Green Bay, and (Kleiman) is going to throw against Marinette.”

Kleiman will also play at the shortstop position, sharing duties with Hunter LaMarch. Eskymos’ football standout Dave Falish will man center field. Jeff Lyle, Brandon Punzel, Andrew Miller, and Cody Imhuff will be splitting up play alongside Falish.

“We’ve got a lot of speed out there,” Ohman said.

Sean Bissell and Dane Messersmith are competing for the main spot at catcher, and their coach said it will come down to whoever performs well in the batter’s box.

“I’m excited about what we have to work with,” Ohman said. “Hopefully this season will be successful for us. They’re excited too; you can see it in their eyes.”