Rally scoring works: Ishpeming Blue Storm turns 5-1 deficit into mercy-rule win under lights

The Ishpeming Blue Storm’s Jacob Adriano pitches to the Kingsford JV Blues team in an American Legion baseball game on Wednesday night at the Ishpeming Ball Field Complex. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

“It’s important for them to learn to never give up no matter what the situation is.” — Matt Matwyuk, manager, Ishpeming Blue Storm

——————

ISHPEMING — A dramatic fifth-inning rally led to a six-inning, mercy-rule shortened 16-6 victory for the Ishpeming Blue Storm over the Kingsford JV Blues in an American Legion baseball game played under the lights on Wednesday night in Ishpeming.

Blue Storm head coach Matt Matwyuk said the win was good for his team to achieve right after their midseason break.

“It was a good game all around,” Matwyuk said. “I’m very proud of our guys. They never stopped giving it their all, and it’s important for them to learn to never give up no matter what the situation is in sports or life, and they showed true character tonight.”

Representatives from the Kingsford team couldn’t be reached after the game was over.

Ishpeming had everything working against it heading into the fifth inning, fighting off mosquitos and fatigue in what became a three-hour match, darkness that was saved by the stadium lights and a 5-1 deficit on the scoreboard.

But the home team scored three quick runs to make it a one-run game, and with the bases loaded and two outs, Jaren Kipling stepped to the plate, ripping a shot to center field that was dropped by the Kingsford fielder, allowing two Ishpeming players to score and go up 6-5.

Jacob Adriano followed with a liner to the shortstop that was too hot for an infielder to play cleanly, throwing the ball to first base too late and allowing two more Blue Storm players to score.

One pitch later, Brent Krook stole home on a wild pitch to increase Ishpeming’s lead to 9-5 after five innings.

Kingsford got a run back in the top of the sixth and even put two men on base to bring the tying run to the plate, but Ishpeming’s Geric Hill earned a key strikeout on the mound to get Ishpeming out of the jam.

The Blue Storm continued their offensive surge in the sixth, ending the game at the plate with the 10-run mercy rule and not letting the game reach the seventh inning.

“In the beginning, (Kingsford) had some hits and lucky bounces that broke the gaps,” Matwyuk said. “They were scoring runs early, but the tide eventually turned in our favor.

“Sometimes that’s just how life is. Every day is a ball game, so it’s any given Sunday for us and we played like it.”

With their midseason break now behind them and a win over Kingsford under their belts, Ishpeming travels to the Autozone Invitational in Sault Ste. Marie this weekend, where they will play teams from the A and AA levels from across the state.

Two games will be played with wooden bats, while the other two will be played with aluminum barrels, with the tournament starting Friday and Saturday before concluding with the semifinals and finals on Sunday.

Matwyuk said the tournament will be a good measuring stick to see how his team plays against some of the region’s best teams.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us coming up,” Matwyuk said. “There’s a lot of good talent and some top level kids that we’re going to be up against.

“It was nice to come back from our break and have a game like this and see everyone healthy. We’re in good shape and ready to see what we can do against some of these teams.”

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.