Prep baseball: Eskymos roll with Devin (Olsen) but get tagged for seven

ESCANABA – Seven became an unlucky number for the Escanaba Eskymos Saturday night as they dropped a 7-0 baseball decision to the Negaunee Miners in the championship game of the Esky Lions Invitational.

The Miners (2-1) snapped a scoreless deadlock by scoring seven times in the seventh inning.

Tyler Jandron opened Negaunee’s seventh by ripping a double to left-centerfield. The senior shortstop then reached third base on a fielder’s choice and scored on Eric Lori’s bounce out to second.

“Tyler hit good all day,” said Negaunee manager Mark Hill. “Our bats are finally warming up. This was an historic day for Negaunee baseball. This is the first time we’ve won one of these tournaments.”

With two out, Esky’s chances of getting out of that inning appeared to be pretty good.

Negaunee, however, continued to defy those odds.

The Miners scored their second run on Shane Ring’s infield single and made it 4-0 on Tyler LaJoie’s two-run single to left.

Jandron then provided his second hit of the inning, a two-run double to left. Chad Larson then finished the scoring on a fielding error a few seconds later.

“I think their first run took the wind out of our sails,” said Esky manager Kirk Schwalbach. “We had opportunities earlier in the game, but didn’t cash in. We were hitting at people and they got the timely hits. After the game, we told the kids it’s just one game. There’s still a lot of games left.”

LaJoie took the win, throwing just 70 pitches. He walked two, hit a batter and scattered four hits. The Miner defense also turned three double plays behind him.

“It’s nice when you can get that, especially this early in the season,” said Hill. “Tyler is an athlete. He has worked on his mechanics and become a solid pitcher for us. We turned some nice double plays when we needed them.”

Negaunee turned its third double play in the fifth, forcing the Eskymos to leave baserunners at second and third. The Miners also had double plays in the first and seventh.

Ben Kleiman, who absorbed the loss, threw a perfect game until the fifth when Lori poked a one-out single to center. He fanned seven, incluing five straight in the second and third frames. He walked one and gave up seven hits through 6 2/3 innings.

“He (Kleiman) pitched a nice game,” said Hill. “He had us back on our heels. Then, we started hitting a little in the sixth. We told the kids we had to make adjustments against their pitcher. Before the seventh we were hitting the ball, but right at people.”

LaJoie and Jandron finished with two hits each for Negaunee, which had five of its seven in the final inning.

Cory McInerney had the lone extra-base hit for the Eskymos (4-6), a double to left in the third.

Earlier in the day, Esky, behind the two-hit pitching of Devin Olsen, blanked the Menominee American Legion team 10-0 in six innings. He whiffed five and walked one.

It was the Eskymos’ home opener and Kleiman collected three hits and drove in three runs. Tyler Skufca, Brandon Punzel and Jack Valentine added two apiece.

“For this early in the season, the championship game was well played,” said Schwalbach. “In the first game, our hitters found the holes. In the second game we didn’t.”

Esky resumes with a single game at Marquette Wednesday.

Negaunee reached the title game with a 2-1 victory over Marquette, with Owen LaJoie taking the win.

Marquette outlasted Menominee 10-9 in the consolation game, which lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.

Jandron was the tourney’s Most Valuable Hitter and Olsen was selected Most Valuable Pitcher.

Joining them on the all-tournament team were Negaunee’s Owen LaJoie, Tyler LaJoie, Jay Lori and Eric Lori, Esky’s Lewis Ostrander, Kleiman and Skufca, Marquette’s Jack Kochevar, Brandon Higby and Luke McAuliffe and Menominee’s Matt Hanson.