Cubs top Niagara, snap skid

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Riley Lamb (35), Tyler Lawson and Zeke Strand (4) celebrate after the Escanaba Cubs defeated Niagara 6-5 Tuesday in American Legion action at Al Ness Field.

ESCANABA — The Escanaba Cubs are learning it’s never too late to salvage a game — and maybe a season.

The Cubs rallied from a 5-0 deficit, scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and defeated Niagara 6-5 in American Legion action Tuesday at Al Ness Field.

“Anytime you put a win on the board it is positive,” said Cubs’ manager Jon Bintner, whose team snapped a 10-game losing skid to improve to 2-14. “Hopefully they use it as some enthusiasm going forward.”

Niagara (7-8) cruised along for a 5-0 lead, with two runs in the first inning, one in the third and two in the sixth off Esky starter Grant LaMarche.

Niagara’s Micah Wilson and Kevin Evosevich started the game with back-to-back singles and scored on singles by Nate Krueger and North Central’s Ben Snyder for a 2-0 lead.

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Niagara catcher Luke Krueger and pitcher Wyatt Riley (4) of North Central High School converse in the bottom of the sixth inning in Tuesday’s game against Escanaba at Al Ness Field.

Snyder also singled and scored in the third on Josh Weber’s RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

In the sixth, Trey Doda singled and scored on Luke Krueger’s RBI double. Wilson added an RBI single to push Niagara’s lead to 5-0 before Esky’s rally.

The Cubs, who played errorless baseball, benefited from four walks and a hit batter in the bottom of the sixth inning. Noah Lancour, Justin Marenger, Drew Rodman and Tyler Lawson each delivered RBI singles and Nick Miller and Zeke Strand drew bases-loaded walks as Esky went ahead 6-5.

“It was 5-0 and we gave up four walks and a hit batter and then three hits in a row,” Niagara manager Dale Blagec said. “That’s baseball. That’s how quick a game can change like that. You think you have the game in hand and it sneaks up and bites you.

“We’ve been playing a lot of games and we’re short on pitching right now and we had a couple guys missing. But it’s no excuse. They played well and are a good baseball team.”

Nate Krueger and Snyder each had two hits to lead Niagara’s 10-hit attack.

Evosevich, Snyder and Wyatt Riley of North Central High School all pitched for Niagara.

Lawson led the Cubs with two hits. The Cubs finished with seven hits, with Zeke Strand and Connor Aiken also reaching on singles.

Strand, who celebrated his birthday with the victory, came on in relief in the seventh to earn the save.

LaMarche allowed 10 hits, struck out three and walked one. Strand allowed no hits, struck out one and walked one.

“(LaMarche) was disappointed he gave up 10 hits,” Bintner said. “I told him I was more proud of the fact he only walked one batter. If you are throwing strikes, people are going to hit it and occasionally they will find holes.

“(LaMarche) throwing strikes was huge. We had two walks tonight compared to our eight or 10 we normally have. And we had no errors because of that. Knowing that the ball is going to be put in play keeps them on their toes and when that happens you make plays behind him.”

The Cubs hope to keep the momentum going when they host Sault AA Saturday in a 6 p.m. doubleheader.

“We are in our stretch run now,” Bintner said. “We only have a couple of weeks left to be able to surprise some teams.

“We’ve seen everybody (in the U.P.)and everybody is beatable. We like to think if we get something rolling, you never know we could end up in Menominee (for the state tournament).”