Blues cop DH sweep on road
MENOMINEE – McKinley Larson set the tone for a Memorial Day weekend fan-fest in the Marquette Blues’ doubleheader sweep of Menominee Saturday.
Larson fanned 14 batters, didn’t allow a walk and checked the Red Wave on four hits in a 2-1 eight-inning win in the opener.
Colin O’Neal and Luke Swajanen then combined for a 2-0 shutout in the second game at Spies Field.
The two teams combined for 42 strikeouts in the two games.
Larson painted the black with his fastball to keep the Red Wave lunging in the opener.
“I used my two-seam and four-seam fastball and found the corners,” said Larson, who is in his first season on the Legion varsity. “I tried to limit the amount of people on base and be efficient.”
The pitching of Menominee’s Landen Maccoux and Ryan Woods didn’t allow much of a comfort zone for Larson.
Maccoux struck out seven, walked two and yielded just two hits in five innings; Woods gave up two hits and struck out four in his three innings.
Menominee nicked Larson for its only run of the day in the fourth inning. Woods led off with a single and hustled to third on Mason Kewley’s sacrifice bunt. A Larson balk gave the Red Wave a 1-0 lead.
Maccoux held the Blues without hit through the first four innings while using his mid 80s heater to strike out six.
Riley Lynch laced a one-out triple to right-center in the fifth, but was caught in a rundown on O’Neal’s bouncer to third. Ryan Hanson legged out a slow roller to short and O’Neal scored the tying run on an infield error.
“(Maccoux) is one of the hardest (throwing) pitchers we’re going to see,” Blues manager Derek Swajanen said.
“I told the kids to work on getting up the pitch count and we would get him out of the game eventually.”
Menominee (2-2) threatened to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Mark Pulver reached on an error, but catcher Levi Underwood fired a strike to second to foil a steal attempt.
After a strikeout, Caleb Kleiman followed with a single, but Larson racked up another “K” to end the inning.
Derek Reiswitz led off the Red Wave seventh with a single and Jaden Kleinke moved him to second with a sacrifice.
But Larson caught Reiswitz leaning and picked him off second.
Woods struck out four of the first seven batters he faced before the Blues put together their winning rally in the eighth.
Underwood slapped a one-out single and steamed into second on a passed ball.
Trevor Bratonia’s sharp single to right gave Marquette its 2-1 lead.
“We just need more cuts in practice,” coach Tony Hofer said of Menominee’s lack of pop at the plate. “Too many pop flies to the infield and that just comes down to getting more swings.”
The two teams were locked in a scoreless duel through the first five innings of the nitecap.
Jared Trudeau reached on an infield error to lead off the Blues’ sixth. After Derek Stone bumped him to second with a sacrifice, Hanson ripped an RBI-single.
Bratonia spanked a one-out single in the seventh and scored on Trudeau’s slicing double to left field.
Luke Swajanen came on in relief of O’Neal in the third inning and blanked the Wave on just three hits.
He walked two and struck out four while earning the win.
O’ Neal stranded a runner at third in the first inning, and left runners on first and second with one out in the second inning.
“They’re a well-coached team,” Hofer said. “They’re not going to give you games and implode like some teams do.”
Derek Swajanen noted the Blues (9-5) manufactured the two wins with three starters out of the lineup.
“This is the youngest team I’ve ever had, but we have the talent to be a good team,” he said.
“Because of rainouts, we’ve been trying to get consistency in our game. When we do that, it will start to pay dividends.”