ESCANABA - It was baseball, but it wasn't pretty. Even Escanaba Eskymos manager Kirk Schwalbach will tell you that.
The Eskymos had to work extra hard in unseasonably cold rainy, windy weather through six innings to come away with a 14-7 victory over the Kingsford Legion Blues Thursday at Al Ness Field.
There were walks, a lot of them. There were errors, plenty of those too.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Escanaba’s Devin Olsen is safe at first base on an error as he beats the tag from Kingsford Blues’ first baseman O’Brien Johnson Thursday at Escanaba.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Kingsford Blues’ Shawn Sexton slides and beats the throw to Escanaba second baseman Nick Vandermissen Thursday at Al Ness Field.
Though the conditions were certainly not ideal for a game that naturally makes its home in warm sunny weather, a game still had to be played nonetheless.
It was a brisk 46 degrees when Escanaba starting pitcher Devin Olsen threw his first pitch to open the game. It soon became evident that it was not his day. Olsen struck out C.J. Qualley to begin the first inning, but then issued walked to the next two Kingsford batters and hit Andrew Kueth with a pitch to load the bases. O'Brien Johnson then hit a two-run single to give the Blues an early 2-0 lead. The Eskymos escaped the top of the inning without any further damage when O'Brien was thrown out at third base.
Escanaba quickly tied the game up in the bottom of the inning with three straight doubles from Nick Vandermissen, Alex DeHaan and Dave Falish, all with two outs.
In the second inning, Olsen retired the side with three quick groundouts and the Eskymos took the lead in the bottom of the inning with a run scoring double from Austin Young.
Things went sour in the third though. Olsen walked the first two Kingsford batters before Shawn Sexton hit a run scoring single to tie the game at 3-3. Nick Baldwin was then walked to load the bases. Olsen fell behind in the count 3-0 to Andrew Kueth, but recovered to strike him out. However, Olsen then issued a bases loaded walk to Johnson to give the Blues a 4-3 lead.
"I think that's a testament to these guys," said Kingsford manager Kevin Murdock. "I tell them to get their swings in and they didn't chase good pitches."
Olsen's day was over after that, as Andrew Sedlar came on in relief. He would end up being the winning pitcher.
"Devin struggled a bit to find the strike zone. He was fine and understood that he made some mistakes, but we made some mistakes too, throwing the ball around all wet," said Schawalbach. "Sedlar threw strikes. He's pitched a couple innings a couple times, but his pitch count was fine, his arm was fine and he loves to pitch."
Sedlar walked the first Kingsford batter he faced, to drive in another run and gave up one more run to Wes Paupore but escaped with minimal damage being done under the circumstances.
The Eskymos were able to tie the game back up at 6-6 in the bottom of the inning. Bailey Lamb hit a run scoring single, Falish scored on a wild pitch and Tim Lueneberg hit an RBI single.
That prompted Murdock to relieve pitcher Nick Swieg. Mike McCole came on in relief and took the loss.
Then came the rain. The temperature plummeted to 40 degrees and rain, heavy at times didn't let up. The Eskymos, however, were able to capitalize as the Blues committed five errors over the next two innings.
Escanaba tacked on five runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth. The game was finally called after the top of the sixth.
"It was mixed. It was getting cold, we didn't want to hurt any arms," said Murdock. "As for the errors, it's early in the season for us, it's one of those things. It's cold, wet, the conditions weren't good, but they weren't good for anyone, not just us."
Falish was credited with the winning run, a 2-run bunt to first due to a fielding error in the fourth inning.
"Falish had a nice bunt and he made something happen. Good teams take advantage of the other team's mistakes. It wasn't pretty though, that's for sure," Schwalbach said." Give all the kids credit though, Kingsford too. They played hard in these tough conditions. Kids were saying they couldn't feel their hands toward the end. It was good to call the game before someone got hurt."
Vandermissen was 3-3 for the second straight game with one RBI for the Eskymos (6-2). Falish was 3-4 with an RBI.
Sexton was 3-3 with a walk and two RBIs for Kingsford (0-2).
The Eskymos travel to Appleton North, Wis. for a doubleheader Saturday.