Prep baseball: Marquette takes two from Negaunee

NEGAUNEE – After one inning, it looked like it was going to be a slugfest between the Marquette Senior High School and host Negaunee in a doubleheader played at Irontown Field.

Two complete games turned in by MSHS pitchers Gabe Apple and Jack Kochevar turned into two close wins as defense reigned supreme in the Redmen’s 5-3 and 1-0 victories.

Marquette improved to 7-12 and has now won seven of its last nine games after starting the season 0-10.

“We started off and scored three runs in the top half of the first inning, we were feeling pretty good,” MSHS head coach Todd Koski said. “Then in their bottom half we kind of kicked the ball around and they got three back.”

The Miners (11-9) bounced back, scoring on a home run from Tyler LaJoie and several Redmen fielding errors.

“We’ve been in that situation before, when we kick the ball around and then tightened it up. It wasn’t anything new to them. They didn’t get rattled,” Koski said. “They know that they’re a very good defensive team when their heads are in the game.”

Both teams settled in after a rocky first inning and the game stayed tied at 3-3 until the fifth when Apple ripped a two-run double off the centerfield wall.

Apple also picked up the pitching win, allowing two earned runs, striking out five and giving up five hits.

“I thought I was throwing the hardest I’ve thrown all year and my arm felt pretty good the whole game and it never really got sore,” Apple said.

In the nightcap, defense and big hits were once again the theme, and just like the first game, Apple made a big play.

With the game scoreless in the top of the sixth, MSHS sophomore Brendan Higbie reached after being hit by a pitch. Trevor Koski laid down a bunt to advance him, but ended up reaching second after a throwing error at first base.

Junior Jake Olson reached on a walk to load the bases with no outs, putting Apple in a position to break the tie.

“The first couple (pitches) I was trying to swing for the fences and the last one I was just trying to put it somewhere, but I didn’t get a piece of it, just a little bloop,” Apple said.

The “little bloop” dribbled down the third-base line and scored the game-winning run as Apple was thrown out at first.

“Gabe Apple has been on absolute fire for the last nine games and every time we need a hit, we’re in a big spot, he’s come up and he’s been delivering all year long,” Koski said. “I couldn’t be happier with that young man.”

On the defensive end, Kochevar controlled the batter’s box, striking out seven while only allowing four hits. He also made plays in the field to preserve the complete-game shutout.

Negaunee threatened in the fifth inning when leadoff runner Bryce Beauchaine reached on a single.

The following batter, Tyler LaJoie, hit a pop-up that appeared was going to fall, but Kochevar made a leaping grab for the out, and jumped up to double up Beauchaine at first.

“Thank my outfielding for that. I’ve been diving in the outfield forever,” Kochevar said. “I heard my team yell, ‘first, first, first’ and I saw the guy standing on second so I just made the easy throw back to first.”

The Miners put two runners on in the bottom of the sixth inning, but were unable to convert as MSHS junior centerfielder Jake Olson made the final out.