Legion baseball: Tiebreaker goes against Blues at tournament

ESCANABA – The Marquette Blues couldn’t control their own destiny, losing out on a tiebreaker for a chance to play in Sunday’s semifinals at the Gregg Johnson Memorial Tournament.

The American Legion team finished with a 2-2 record and lost on the tiebreaker after Escanaba was mercied by Midland Berryhill at the end of Saturday’s schedule.

On Saturday, the Blues opened by pulling out a 9-8 victory over Chief Pontiac when Ryan Walther scored on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh inning to break an 8-8 tie.

He had reached on a dropped third strike, then advanced on a steal and another wild pitch before coming home.

“We did a great job of hanging around and making the most of our opportunities,” Blues manager Derek Swajanen said. “We had timely hitting, played good, solid defense and our pitching corps did a nice job of throwing strikes. That was a huge win for our program.

“Being a timed game, we were a little nervous that we wouldn’t get to play the last inning.

“With Walther’s speed, it wasn’t even close at home for the game-winning run.”

He also credited his reliever, Luke Swajanen, for slamming the door on the Oakland County powerhouse in the bottom of the seventh. Luke Swajanen earned the win, going three innings and allowing no runs and no walks while scattering two hits and striking out three.

Riley Lynch, who started on the mound and went four innings, was the game’s hitting star, going 3 for 3 with a two-run homer in the top of the first and collecting four RBIs and scoring twice. Ryan Hanson and Colin O’Neal each had singles and an RBI while Hanson stole two bases and O’Neal scored a run.

Maverick Prince, who was Pontiac’s final reliever and threw the wild pitch that brought Luke Swajanen home with the decisive run, hit a three-run homer in the fourth that put his team up 8-7.

The Blues retied it 8-8 an inning later on O’Neal’s single that followed a single and stolen base by Walther.

The Blues could’ve clinched one of the four semifinal berths in this 10-team tournament with another win Saturday, but were shut out 5-0 by the host Escanaba Cubs.

“After such an emotional win (against Chief Pontiac), it’s really hard to stay up and that’s what happened,” Swajanen said. “We played a pretty solid game, but they were able to put a few hits together and that was really the difference.”

Walther went the distance on the mound and took the loss, giving up five runs on seven hits and five walks while fanning three.

Esky’s Devon Olsen posted the complete-game shutout, scattering four hits, two to Lynch including a double. Lynch also stole a base.