Marquette Blues victorious in opening game to advance in winner’s bracket of American Legion baseball state tourney

The Marquette Blues’ Peter VandenAvond snags a fly ball during an American Legion baseball Class A state tournament game against Rosebush on Thursday afternoon at Haley Memorial Field in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

MARQUETTE — Good baseball teams find ways to win games and the Marquette Blues definitely did that Thursday afternoon at the American Legion Class A Tournament.

The Blues chipped away at an early deficit, busted loose at the plate as the game wore on and then hung on in the top of the seventh to defeat Rosebush 8-5 in an entertaining game that finished in the evening.

“We played a lot of small ball and it was kind of the situation that we were put in,” Blues head coach Derek Swajanen said. “A lot of times, we had runners at first and second with nobody out and we ended up capitalizing on bases loaded twice on that.

“And we did little things that we were supposed to do. It was nice to see. The boys did a nice job.”

Rosebush took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, but the Blues got one run back in their half of the frame on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Frusti. Marquette then tied the game at 2-2 in the third on an RBI single by Hogan Nemetz.

While Blues starter Justin Wenk was keeping Rosebush off the basepaths, he started to get some run support in the fifth. With the bases loaded, Dakota Maki hit a sacrifice fly to score Wenk and in the next at bat, Nemetz hit a sac fly of his own to plate another run to make it 4-2 Blues.

Marquette then pushed across four runs in the sixth to pad its advantage. Wenk hit an RBI single and two batters later, Erik Johnson smacked an RBI single of his own and it was 6-2. Two batters later, Nemetz drew a bases-loaded walk and then Brock Taylor hit a sac fly to give Marquette an 8-2 lead.

That appeared to be a comfortable advantage for the Blues, but Rosebush fought back in the top of the seventh as it hit three RBI singles, two of them coming with two outs. Wenk was then pulled in favor of Johnson, who threw a three-pitch strikeout to end the game. Wenk finished with three strikeouts, while surrendering eight hits and two walks.

“We were trying to go with Wenk for as long as he could,” Swajanen said. “He ran out of gas a little bit and they tightened him up. They did a nice job pulling it back, and then Erik came in and shut the door real quick.”

Marquette now plays Copper Country at 5 p.m. today. The Flames beat Chief Pontiac earlier in the day and then defeated Menominee 1-0 on a walkoff sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.


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