MENOMINEE - Kyle Berres left Spies Field with a lifetime memory tucked in his back pocket
Menominee 19-year-olds David Beck, Adam Saucier and Sean Budzynski have plenty of good memories of Spies, but their final game at their homefield will be put in the delete file.
Berres, in his final year of Legion baseball, far exceeded the expectations of Escanaba coach Tom Ohman while making his first-ever pitching appearance.
Tom Kaeser | Marinette EagleHerald
Pitcher Kyle Berres of the Escanaba Cubs delivers a pitch against Menominee Red Wave Tuesday in American?Legion baseball.
Coaxing the Red Wave into jumping out in front of his assortment of soft-serve pitches, Berres held Post 146 to four hits and walked just two in the Cubs 16-3 five-inning rout Tuesday night.
"Coach just threw me out there and told me to have fun," Berres explained. "It was fun. I just tried to throw strikes."
When asked if he felt he would get another shot on the mound in tournament play, Berres replied, "I hope not."
Ohman said before the game he had Berres on a very short leash, but his untested pitcher kept adding slack to the leash with his surprising four-inning effort. Berres allowed just one hit through the first three innings.
"That's the first time in my 31 years of coaching that I've thrown a pitcher who's never pitched," said Ohman. "With the (zone) tournament coming, I wanted to save some arms. Kyle is well-liked by the whole team."
The Red Wave (10-24) added to Berres's comfort level by scoring in every inning, highlighted by a 10-run barrage in the fourth inning.
Escanaba (11-12) rapped out four, two-strike singles and had three batters hit with two strikes on them. Three Menominee pitchers combined for seven walks and the defense added to the debacle with seven errors.
"It was a flat effort from the start," said Menominee coach Tony Hofer said. "It's disappointing because we've been playing so good."
The Cubs held a 4-1 lead before sending 15 batters to the plate in the fourth-inning landslide.
Sean Budzynski hit three batters in the inning, the Wave breathed fire into the rally with three errors and two walks and Dave Falish and Ben Kleiman provided the big hits.
Falish, who was named to the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State Academic team, jolted a three-run triple and Kleiman drilled a two-run double. Alex DeHaan and Matt DeHaan each poked an RBI single and Trent Schwalbach added a single to the marathon inning.
"We've struggled all year. We get people on base but we don't get them in," said Ohman. "We persevered tonight."
Esky jumped out to a 2-0 lead off Beck in the first inning on singles by Justyn Doucette and Falish and an infield throwing error.
Berres felt the tug of the short leash early as Zach Budzynski led off the Red Wave first with a triple to left-center. Ryan Woods drove him in with a bouncer to short.
Berres defied the odds as he retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced.
Devin Olsen and Kleiman spanked singles in the second as the Cubs pushed their lead to 3-1. Schwalbach drew a leadoff walk in the third, chugged to third on Jensen's single and scored on a throwing error.
Derek Reiswitz drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the fourth and Beck, Olsen and Riley Hegg smacked consecutive singles to add Menominee's final two runs.
Falish delivered a two-run single in the fifth, his third hit of the game, to cap Esky's 11-hit spree. Falish drove in seven runs and reached base five times.
Jensen and Kleiman each had two hits.
"Give Escanaba credit, they hit the ball," said Hofer.
Andrew Kaesale turned in a one-two-three relief effort in the fifth.
Beck allowed two earned runs on five hits and walked two in his three-inning start while taking the loss.
The two teams play again Thursday at 4:30 p.m. (CDT) at Rudyard in their zone tournament opener.