Esky baseball advances over Petoskey
PETOSKEY — It would be difficult for anyone to pinpoint a single, decisive moment that led to the Escanaba Eskymos defeating the Petoskey Northmen 3-2 Wednesday afternoon in Petoskey in an MHSAA Divison 2 regional quarterfinal.
The ending, however, was as the Braves Riley Lamb scooped up a groundball and scrambled back to first base to secure the final out in the top of the seventh to seal the Eskymos’ victory.
“I don’t know how you top (last) Saturday’s game against Cheboygan, but we just did,” said Escanaba head coach Scott Hanson. “Kudos to the boys. The kids made plays.”
Lamb’s individual game served as a capsule of sorts for Escanaba’s game as a whole.
After an error in the sixth where he lost the handle of a groundball, Lamb collected two outs — including the last — on similar plays in the seventh.
“We’re playing with confidence. Nobody gets down,” Hanson said. “Even if we make a mistake, we move on to the next play. We made some mistakes (today), but we played through them.”
For Lamb, the two plays to help secure the Escanaba victory served as redemption for his error.
“I was really worried about it when I made that (error),” Lamb said. “Sometimes I get down on myself pretty easily, and I was not happy about that. For me to be able to actually come back and do something to help us out again, in the end, means so much to me because I never want to let my guys down. It was awesome.”
Following the win last week over Cheboygan, Lamb said the team was feeling good heading into the contest against the Northmen.
“It’s crazy,” he said of the win. “We felt confident about it since we won districts. But, for us to come in here and actually get it done — just the way we did it too; we played really well — it was a lot of fun. That was one of the funnest games I’ve ever had.
“We’re going to make a little run here. Let’s go Mo’s!”
Hunter Lancour (one strikeout, three walks, three allowed hits for two runs (1 ER)) started the game for the Eskymos and pitched through five. As the game began to wind down, Jared Hanson (one strikeout, one walk, one hit given up) came in to close things up for Escanaba.
It was actually Lancour who suggested the change, said coach Hanson.
“I can’t say enough how well (Hunter) pitched. He competes every pitch,” said coach Hanson. “Just as a teammate, too. We got to the sixth, and I went out there, and I (asked him what he was thinking), and he goes, ‘I think they’re timing me up, coach. Let’s go with Jared.’ Who does that? What a great teammate.
“I think Jared had enough in the tank to go a couple innings. I was kind of worried with his arm issues. I think by the end of the sixth, he was pretty loose. I don’t know what it was on the radar gun, but it was pretty hot.”
The Eskymos tallied four hits with Bryant Maki going 2-3 with an RBI to bring Lancour in on a bunt that turned into a double in the fourth.
Lancour and Lamb each had hits with Lamb earning an RBI on a single in the fourth that ushered Maki to the dish, too.
Colin Arnt jumpstarted a hectic double play for the Eskymos in the top of the sixth.
On a pop fly, Arnt came up just shy of collecting the out with a catch. The ball, instead of resting in his glove, popped out, hit the ground and ended up in his other hand.
He then brought the ball in and threw it to Tyler Lawson at home for one out. Lawson — like others — believed Arnt had caught the ball and that the play at the plate was out three and rolled the ball to the mound.
In the chaos that ensued, the ball found its way back to home plate where Lawson caught another throw for out three.
Petoskey coach Shawn Racignol said it was moments like this that are hard to prepare for.
“Just some stuff you can’t really practice for,” he said. “But, that’s the game of baseball. It’s an awesome game, but sometimes those type of things happen.”
He added the game was bound to be a close one.
“The score could have gone either way,” he said. “If we played a couple more innings it probably be 5-4 7-6, 8-7. It’s just one of those types of ballgames.”
Coach Hanson had similar thoughts.
“I figured it was going to be a one-run game going in, but I didn’t know who was going to come out on top,” he said. “I was hoping it was going to be us, and it was.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for the boys. We just want to keep playing and now down in Alma on Saturday.”
Escanaba travels to Alma to face off against Muskegon Oakridge at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.