MARQUETTE - The Marquette Blues and Negaunee Diamonds American Legion baseball teams have waged some epic battles at Gerard Haley Memorial Field in Marquette on the Fourth of July.
Independence Day 2012, however, was not one of those days.
The Blues' Nathan Mutch drilled a two-run homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the first inning and starting pitcher Nick Kamrada struck out the first seven batters he faced in Marquette's 10-0 rout of Negaunee on Wednesday.
Marquette Blues starting pitcher Nick Kamrada delivers in the second inning against the Negaunee Diamonds during the two squads’ annual Fourth of July contest at Haley Memorial Field in Marquette on Wednesday. Kamrada struck out the first seven batters he faced, finishing with 12 strikeouts total in the Blues 10-0 win in five innings. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
The first meeting of the season between the two rivals barely cracked the 90-minute mark as Luke Swajanen's RBI single in the bottom of the fifth ended the game, giving fans plenty of time to still grab a spot for the afternoon parade through downtown Marquette.
"It's always nice when you can get ahead in a game and not get anybody on base until you get some runs, then you get a little more comfort," Kamrada said about the run of seven Ks to start the game.
"Negaunee has always been our rivals and it's always been tight, close games with them. It's nice to just have a good game against them, beat them and then enjoy the rest of our day."
Kamrada went all five innings for Marquette, finishing with 12 strikeouts, two walks and two hits against the 21 batters he faced.
Negaunee's first base runner, CJ Hersha, came in the top of the third inning via a walk and then Kamrada found himself in a jam in the top of the fourth inning with the Blues up 4-0.
Negaunee's Zach Makela reached base on a fielding error, Tyler Thomas got the first hit off Kamrada to put two on base and both advanced via a sacrifice bunt by Aaron Hodges.
Kamrada struck out the next batter, walked Negaunee's Eric Wideman to load the bases and struck out Hersha to get out of the jam.
"(Kamrada) is a seasoned veteran and my hat's off to him. He threw well," Negaunee manager Robbie Jandron said. "I guess with our guys, the first time seeing him, we're very young and inexperienced. We only have two guys that played Legion ball and I think that showed."
Marquette tacked on two more runs in the fourth and then poured in four runs in the fifth to end the game. Of the final six runs scored by Marquette, four came on balls that got by the catcher.
Only four of the 10 Marquette runs on Wednesday were earned against Negaunee pitcher Tyler Jandron, who struck out eight Blues. Jandron also had the Diamonds' other hit.
Spencer Larson, Luke Swajanen and Jared Wales each finished the day offensively with a hit and an RBI for Marquette. Eric Kostreva also drove in a run in the third via a ground out.
Mutch finished 1 for 3 with the two RBIs from his homer, plus two runs scored.
"On the Fourth of July, you never know what's going to happen," Blues manager Derek Swajanen said. "They've always been kind of close games and obviously we came out and did a nice job.
"Nick set the tone early and defensively and we've been playing really good baseball. We had some timely hitting and took advantage of some miscues."
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.