Eskymos start 2024 baseball season with mammoth win over IM

Escanaba sophomore Lennox peacock winds up to throw a pitch during a game against Iron Mountain on April 10, 2024 at Al Ness Field in Escanaba. ("The Big Dog" Mitch Vosburg/Daily Press)

ESCANABA –The sun shined brightly with no signs of the white stuff which accumulates after falling from the sky anywhere near the confines of Al Ness Field.

Signals were mixed up, errors were made. By no means was Wednesday’s season opener for Escanaba baseball perfect, but the orange and black got some of the early season jitters worked out in a 12-3 win over Iron Mountain.

“We’ll have four games going into the third week of April. That’s all you can ask for up here,” Esky coach Scott Hanson said. “There’s a lot of downstate teams that are just getting started too. We’re in great shape.”

With a 4-3 lead in hand entering the bottom of the fifth frame, the Eskymos (1-0) broke through on the scoreboard, and broke through often.

Freshman Alex Ison kicked off the inning by reaching first base off an error. Brian Boutlier and Nolan Bink each singled to load the bases.

Then three-straight walks and a wild pitch ballooned the lead to 7-3.

With a pair of ducks on the pond in scoring position senior shortstop Ben Johnson blasted a low frozen rope up the middle and into center field, scoring seniors Chase Cloutier and Nick Chiu to take a 9-3 lead while Johnson advanced to second off an error and moved senior Bon LaChance to third base.

LaChance ultimately scored on a passed ball for a 10-3 lead. Boutlier belted a 2-1 pitch into left field for a two-run single to end the game.

Johnson finished 2-for-3 with three RBI and a walk.

“It felt amazing. You can’t beat the weather at this time of year,” Johnson said. “Before spring break we had a week of practice outside here, and we really focused on hitting all offseason too. We’re looking to keep it going.

Bink and Boultier each finished 2-for-2 with Bink scoring twice and Boultier adding two RBI and scored once.

Senior Eli gardner earned the win, allowing two hits and striking out three in 1 2/3 of hitless relief. Chiu allowed three unearned runs off three hits with a punchout in the fifth.

Cannon Arnt allowed one hit, walked one and fanned three across 1 1/3 innings of shutout action on the mound. Peacock walked one and struck out one during the first inning.

“I’ve got some quality depth on the pitching staff,” Hanson said. “(We’re) gonna see better hitting than what (we) saw today. I think we’ve got a nice hitting team, but it’s go time pretty soon though.”

Despite falling to 0-3 on the season, IM skipper Jeff McLain saw some positives, particularly in its half of the fifth inning. The Miners put together a two-out rally which took advantage of multiple Esky errors, turning a 4-1 deficit into a 4-3 hole which appeared manageable until the Mountaineers pitching staff ran out of gas in their third game in two days.

Aiden Ellis finished 2-for-3 at the plate. Freshman Charlie Anderson finished 1-for-2 and earned the team’s lone RBI while allowing five runs, three earned, off three hits and three walks with a punchout in two innings on the mound.

“We did some nice things,” McLain said. “Obviously the fifth inning kind of went awry, but I saw some nice things. Definitely (made some) progress I’d say.”

With their season opener officially in the rear-view mirror, the Eskymos prep for a three games in two days in Wisconsin Dells.

Esky faces Flambeau at 4 p.m. Friday while colliding with Lake Mills at 10 a.m. and Fond du Lac at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.

“The competition is going to be second to none,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be great. Weather should be nice. I’m really looking forward to it.”


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