Marquette Blues salvage weekend split by sweeping Sunday

The Marquette Blues’ Hogan Nemetz, right, bats with teammate Zach Bukowski leading off first base in the eighth inning of an American Legion baseball game played against the Gladstone Indians in Antigo, Wisconsin, on Sunday. Bukowski, who entered as a pinch runner, eventually scored the winning run off a hit by Kyle Frusti. (Photo courtesy Dana Swajanen)

ANTIGO, Wis. — The Marquette Legion Blues baseball team wrapped up its second straight weekend tournament by salvaging a split with two wins in Antigo, Wisconsin.

After taking two losses on Saturday against Wisconsin teams Ashwaubenon and host Antigo, the Blues rebounded with a pair of wins Sunday, a 15-4 victory over Neenah, Wisconsin, in five innings and a 4-3 walkoff winner over Gladstone in eight innings to finish the weekend with a record of 2-2 that leaves the team at 14-12 overall.

“We played good, consistent baseball,” Blues manager Derek Swajanen said. “We could easily have a 3-1 record if it weren’t for a couple of really tough Wisconsin teams. Gladstone is really tough, too, and we ended up beating them in eight innings.”

Things were all knotted at 4-4 in Sunday’s first game before an 11-run fifth inning sent the Blues to a mercy rule victory. Blake Henriksen led the offense with four RBIs, going 2 for 3 with a triple. Peter VandenAvond, Jon Jason and Hogan Nemetz added two RBIs apiece.

Jason also went the distance on the mound, going the full five innings and allowing four runs on four hits, striking out four and walking two.

The Blues finished with nine hits and three errors. Justin Ulmer took the loss for Neenah.

Nemetz started on the rubber in Sunday’s second game, going 6 1/3 innings while allowing three runs on six hits. He fanned five Indians batters while walking five.

Marquette led 3-1 after three innings before Gladstone tied it with two runs in the fifth. The score remained that way through the regulation seven innings.

The Blues’ Kyle Frusti made sure there wouldn’t be more than one extra inning, however, with his first career walkoff winner. He ripped a single down the left field line to bring home Zach Bukowski, who was pinch running for Holden Shaneberger.

Swajanen credited his whole team, but in particular Sunday’s pitchers, for recovering after a disappointing Saturday.

“Hogan pitched great in the Gladstone game and Jon Jason also threw really well,” Swajanen said. “We had a team conversation right after we lost the second game (Saturday). I told them that the season starts now.

“The kids got out there early (Sunday morning), took over 100 swings each and it paid dividends.”

Frusti finished the nightcap going 2 for 4 with his game-winning RBI. Henriksen was 1 for 4 with an RBI while Brendan Kaski was 0 for 2 with an RBI.

Ian Schwalbach took the loss on the mound for the Indians, going seven innings while allowing three runs on five hits, striking out four and walking two.

Cooper Cavadeas led Gladstone, going 2 for 4 with an RBI, a double and a stolen base. Jared Crow was also 1 for 3 with an RBI.

The Blues finished with seven hits to Gladstone’s six. Marquette committed one error as the Indians had three.

“We faced good competition over the weekend,” Swajanen said. “The boys did a really nice job.”

The Blues host Niagara, Wisconsin, in a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Tuesday and a single game against Iron Mountain at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Spitza. Email him at sports@miningjournal.net.