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Bark River upends Esky in Legion tournament

ESCANABA — It was a tough weekend for area American Legion baseball teams in the Gregg Johnson/Al Erickson Memorial tournament, but Bark River salvaged a victory in a 10-2 conquest of Escanaba in five innings here Saturday night.

The Bucs (3-7), taking advantage of three walks and an error, secured the decision by scoring five times in the fifth. They also had three of their seven hits in the inning.

“This is the first game in the tournament which we were hitting the ball,” said Bark River manager Matt Richer.

“We hadn’t had a lot of time practicing together. We hadn’t played the greatest, but it’s always nice to beat Escanaba. The kids know each other and are best of friends off the field. All the kids on the team get along. We have some talented kids who like to play baseball. We’ll get better.”

Bark River opened the scoring in the third by cashing in on two errors and a two-run single to right-centerfield by Matt Richer Jr. for a 4-0 lead.

The Cubs (0-5) responded in their half of the third, scoring their first run on a single to left by rightfielder Jake LaFave and trimming their deficit to 4-2 on first baseman Noah Lancour’s infield single.

Bark River then hiked its advantage to 5-2 on first baseman Sam Hall’s single to left in the fourth.

The Cubs committed five errors and the Bucs had one.

“It’s funny what an error does,” said Esky manager Jon Bintner. “Every time our kids walk a guy or make an error, it seems to play their psyche. We don’t have a deep bullpen, but we’re not disappointed with our starters. Walks and errors add to the pitch count and our defense has to be perfect behind them. If our defense isn’t perfect, the games aren’t perfect. It’s an age thing, but hopefully they’re not making the same mistakes when they’re 18.”

Hall and shortstop Nick Javurek had two hits each for Bark River. Lancour had two of Esky’s six hits.

Matt Richer Jr., who plans to play at Bay College next season, got the complete game victory. He struck out three and walked one.

“We hadn’t extended Matt beyond 45-50 (pitches), but he threw a little more tonight,” said manager Richer. “Duner Englund has been helping us in practice and the kids respond real well to him. They really look up to Duner (who recently completed his career at Mott Community College and plans to continue at a college in West Virginia).”

Riley Lamb went 4 2/3 innings for the loss. He fanned four, walked five and gave up seven runs on six hits.

“Riley got up in pitches,” said Bintner. “Once he gets up to about 110, you have no choice but to pull him.”

Bark River trailed just 5-3 in the fourth inning against Midland Berryhill in an earlier game.

The defending Class AA state champs and World Series finalists, however, cashed in on two errors and singles by Shane Juday, Derek Beougher and Jeff Allen for an 8-3 cushion in their half of the fourth.

Beougher then launched a solo shot in a four-run sixth.

A 10-run seventh inning was more than enough for Marinette to subdue Esky 17-2.

Esky trailed just 5-2 after five frames.

Marinette then scored twice in the sixth, setting the stage for a 30-minute-long seventh in which the winners sent 16 hitters to plate and faced 51 pitches.

Lancour, who lasted five innings, absorbed the loss

“It’s not like Noah was getting clobbered, but his pitch count also got high and we had to go to our bullpen,” said Bintner. “Then, they started hitting the ball. We haven’t been able to string our hits together. We’re not getting the timely hits.”

Esky’s Jake Anderson got an RBI single in the second. The Cubs then scored on two errors in the third.

The Cubs committed six errors, including three in the third. Lancour, however, held Marinette to two runs in the inning.

Marinette’s Mason Risner finished with three hits. Nolan Lemke added two hits and three RBIs. Trey Bretl, Joe Bezio, Braeden McMahon and Seth Seefeldt also had two hits.

The Cubs travel to Menominee and Marquette for games Tuesday and Wednesday, then host Bark River Thursday

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