End of the road

Esky falls to Richmond in state semifinal game

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Escanaba pitcher Katie Ross, center, gets congratulated by assistant coach Andy Fields, left, and second baseman Claire McInerney after the second inning.

EAST LANSING – Escanaba catcher Taylor Segorski didn’t like what she was seeing in the third inning Thursday in the Division 2 state semifinals.

Defending state champion Richmond was breaking open a scoreless game and getting a serious edge at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.

“The only thing I could think is, ‘We have to stop it, we have to stop it,'” Segorski said. “We were just trying to dig deep and make the outs and do what we could do to minimize the damage.”

By the bottom of the third inning, the damage was done. Richmond (36-7) scored all four of its runs in the third and held off the Eskymos for a 4-2 victory.

The Blue Devils defeated Esky (33-5) for the second straight year in the semis and advanced to Saturday’s 10 a.m. title game against Ida.

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Escanaba senior Taylor Segorski looks out on Secchia Stadium after a 4-2 loss to Richmond in the Division 2 semifinals.

Senior Katie Ross was matching Richmond ace Erin Shuboy through two innings, but the game turned in the bottom of the third.

It started with a walk, error off a bunt, a fielder’s choice off a bunt that scored one run and intentionally walking Richmond cleanup hitter Emma Caperton to load the bases. Evelyn Swantek then belted a three-run double into the gap in right center field to give the Blue Devils a decisive 4-0 lead.

“It’s one of those deals, they had a big inning in third inning and it’s just tough to come back,” Esky coach Jamie Segorski said. “They have a real solid pitcher and a solid defense. We knew we had to earn every run that we were going to get. It’s just a really good team.

“When it came time to get the big hit with the bases loaded, they got it.”

Ross said she made one bad pitch and Swantek jumped on it.

“I hung it a little bit over the middle and that was the mistake I made,” Ross said. “She got a hold of it and hit the gap. It was a fastball. They put the bat on the ball, and we did, but not as much, not as well as they did.”

Richmond finished with five hits off Ross and freshman reliever Gabi Salo. Ross worked three innings, allowing three hits, striking out two and walking two. Salo pitched the last three innings and gave up two hits, struck out three and walked none.

Richmond coach Howard Stuart said his team was prepared to face both Esky pitchers and was relieved to walk away with another win against the Eskymos.

“We already checked them both out,” said Stuart, who has 986 wins in 39 years as head coach. “We’ve already seen them, we knew exactly what we were looking at. There were no surprises. I thought Ross, the first one, did quite well. We just had one big inning. I thought we just got lucky.

“That’s a great team over there. We’ve been fortunate to get a big hit the last two years. We just had one good inning. We had one key hit and that’s all it took.”

Esky crept back into the game with a two-run fifth inning. Aubree Saunders and Maddie Griffin walked and Claire McInerney followed with a base hit to load the bases. Pinch runner Madison Kolich came home on Emily Bruntjens’ fielder’s choice and Lexi Chaillier delivered an RBI single to score Griffin before the Eskymos left the bases loaded.

Esky couldn’t do any more damage against Shuboy, the sophomore who pitched a no-hitter in last year’s title game. Shuboy allowed four hits, struck out seven and walked six while throwing 111 pitches.

Taylor Segorski and Ross had the other hits for Esky, which left runners on first and second in the sixth inning.

“We got on her too late,” Ross said about Shuboy. “She has a lot of spin on the ball. And then she’s all over the place, so it kept us off balance and we never knew what we were going to see. So that really helped her.”

Taylor Gauthier and Chaillier each hit deep balls for fly outs in the top of the seventh that were both caught.

“(Four) hits is just not enough to make it happen,” said Jamie Segorski, whose team stranded eight runners. “We had a couple walks. We had a couple opportunities and we weren’t able to get it done. Credit to them, too. They made the play when they had to.

“Their right fielder made a really great play at the end of the game on a well-hit ball. If we’re playing on a regular high school field, we probably hit two home runs there instead of two deep flies.”

So Esky’s run ends again at the semifinals with a loss to Richmond. It was one of those red-letter games they circled and hoped to play again after last year’s defeat.

But they came up just short again in the rematch and left it all on the field.

“It was two good teams out there,” Taylor Segorski said. “It’s just heartbreaking. We played our best, we battled back, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough.”