Marquette Blues hang on for 4-3 win at Bark River in American Legion baseball

The Marquette Blues’ Blake Henriksen, center, tosses the ball to Hogan Nemetz to get a Bark River runner out at first base during an American Legion baseball game played Tuesday at Bark River. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Justin St. Ours)

BARK RIVER — Bark River refused to give up, but on the brink of tying it up, was struck down by the whims of fate.

Instead, the Marquette Blues hung on to pull out a 7-6 win against the Bucs in an American Legion baseball game played here Tuesday.

After the Blues scored three runs in the first inning and added one more in the third, the Bucs chipped away to pull within one by the end of the sixth.

“We didn’t pitch very well in the first inning,” Bucs manager Matt Richer said. “We walked a couple guys and couldn’t find the strike zone.

“Then, Zach Englund came in and got a crucial out to end the first inning and kind of stabilize us. He pitched really well and gave us a chance to win.”

With Bark River within striking distance in the seventh, Marquette (16-12) drew two walks and capitalized on two errors as Jakob Peterson drove home Kyle Frusti and Jacob Allard-Soucey.

Blake Henriksen then singled to score Peter VandenAvond to give the Blues a 7-3 lead with half an inning remaining.

In the bottom of the seventh, Bark River’s Josiah Javurek singled down the third-base line and Englund drew a walk to put two on. Matt Richer Jr. then doubled on a deep shot to center field to score Javurek and Englund, cutting the Bucs’ deficit to 7-5.

After Matt Richer Jr. was tagged out, Nick Javurek and Peterson each singled to put two back on base. With Mason Korhonen up to bat, Nick Javurek scored on a wild pitch to bring the Bucs (6-13) within one.

Korhonen then hit a ground single, and Wyatt Riley crossed home only to be called out after he made contact with the Bucs’ third base coach as he rounded third, eliminating his tying run and giving the Blues the win.

“Wyatt tripped and kind of slipped over the base, and hit our third base coach who kind of rerouted him,” Coach Richer said. “Sometimes when you’re looking for a win, you find ways to lose. We made a good comeback at it, and Marquette’s a pretty good team. I like our effort.”

Blues manager Derek Swajanen explained his team has recently shifted its attitude.

“With all the tournaments we’re going to be in, we’ve kind of taken a 0-0 start mentality, and it’s been working out well for us,” he said. “We’re 3-0 so far.”

Richer Jr. took the pitching loss for the Bucs over two-thirds of an inning, allowing two hits, two walks and three runs.

Englund pitched in relief for 5 1/3, allowing seven hits, two walks and a run while striking out one. Korhonen pitched the final inning, allowing two hits, two walks and three runs.

Richer Jr. collected three RBIs and two hits, and Riley finished with one RBI and three hits.

Henriksen earned the win for the Blues over two innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out three.

Cooper Myers pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief, striking out one and allowing nine hits, five walks and five runs.

Peterson notched two RBIs and a hit, while Henriksen had four hits and an RBI.

“Cooper came in and did a real nice job after he got settled,” Swajanen said. “He hadn’t thrown in probably two weeks. So, it was nice to see there.

“Then we just kind of hung on by our fingernails there. We were a little thin on pitching after all the games we’ve played, so it was nice to see Cooper come in.”

Marquette wraps up its regular season when the Blues host Iron Mountain in a doubleheader at 4 p.m. today after a veterans’ picnic with vets from the Jacobetti Home planning to attend and throw out the first pitch.