Last season, the Houghton Gremlins baseball team featured a veteran lineup with three senior pitchers and seven seniors on roster. Despite all that experience, they lost all five times they faced the Calumet Copper Kings, who were in their first season.
Tuesday night at Stanton Field, a much younger Gremlins squad did what the veteran-laden group last season could not, as they took the opening game, 6-4. The Copper Kings bounced back with an 11-8 win in the nightcap.
The Gremlins graduated Cole Jepsen, Alan Jurmu, and Reid Pietila, all of whom were key contributors on the mound last season. Manager Rob Scholie turned to Kevin Bostwick in the opener, and the sophomore went 5 innings, surrendering eight hits and picking up one strikeout.
While Bostwick’s numbers were not overpowering, the fact that he fought through 5 innings was a good sign for the Gremlins.
“Kevin pitched really well,” said Scholie. “I am really happy with what I got out of him; for him to have the stamina just to go 105 [pitches].”
On the mound for the Copper Kings opposite Bostwick was sophomore Brent Loukus. After struggling early, surrendering five of the six runs in the first three innings, the youngster posted five strikeouts while only surrendering six hits.
Manager Dave Yeo was pleased with the efforts of his group despite the loss as they were able to get hits but could not string them together.
“We couldn’t get a timely hit,” said Yeo. “I think we stranded about 15 runners.
“I was real happy with the way [Brent] pitched in his first outing. We didn’t help him out a whole lot.”
Bostwick started the game well for the Gremlins by grounding a single. Sam Keskimaki reached on a fielder’s choice two batters later. Both were brought home by a single from Tyler Cleary.
After the Copper Kings’ Wyatt Loukus scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the first to cut the Gremlins’ lead in half, Justin Norkol singled home a run in the top of the second to regain the lead, 3-1. With the bases still loaded, Houghton scored again when Jordan Reynolds, the lone senior on the team, was hit by a pitch.
Houghton took a 5-1 lead into the fourth when Calumet senior Ed Beiring scored as senior Rory Anderson reached on a defensive error, cutting The Gremlins’ lead to 5-2.
The following inning, the Copper Kings struck again to cut the deficit to 5-3.
In the top of the sixth, the Gremlins regained their three-run lead for good when they loaded the bases before Keskimaki was hit by a pitch from Anderson, who had replaced Brent Loukus on the mound.
In the nightcap, the Gremlins turned to Cleary, who went 4 innings”, surrendering nine hits and posting four strikeouts.
Despite being held accountable for all 11 runs, Scholie was pleased with what he got from Cleary.
“I think Tyler Cleary showed me a lot,” said Scholie. “I was only going to pitch him three innings, thinking that I would split between a bunch of guys. He pitched well enough to stay in the game.”
Anderson took the mound and earned the victory for the Copper Kings, going 4 innings”, getting three strikeouts and surrendering five hits.
Calumet scored the game’s first five runs. Three of them came in the first as Wyatt Loukus scored on a passed ball and senior Matthew Yeo knocked home a pair of runs on a single to center.
Up 5-1 in the bottom of the third, the Copper Kings saw their lead collapse as Keskimaki reached first base on a defensive error with the bases loaded. Three runs scored on the play, cutting the lead to one. Keskimaki later scored when Tyler Romps sacrificed, tying the game, 5-5.
Rather than quit, however, the Copper Kings fought back with six runs in the top of the fourth. Up 8-5 with the bases loaded, Beiring smacked a line drive to left field, scoring all three runners on the play.
The Gremlins closed the game in the bottom of the fifth to 11-8 before Anderson was replaced with Wyatt Loukus on the mound. Loukus threw one pitch to Bostwick, who grounded into a fielder’s choice, ending the game.