Wild pitches help Marquette Blues hold back Ishpeming Blue Storm, 11-0

MARQUETTE – Capitalizing on your opponent’s struggles on the mound can often result in a baseball triumph.

The Marquette American Legion Blues did just that at Haley Memorial Field Tuesday night.

The Blues scored runs on four wild pitches by visiting Ishpeming in the third inning that broke open a tight game and led to an 11-0, five-inning, mercy-rule decision for Marquette (26-6).

“I was unhappy with our baserunning, but we capitalized (on Ishpeming’s wildness),” Blues manager Derek Swajanen said. “We also got some key hitting.”

Trevor Bratonia slammed a two-run triple, and Ryan Hanson a run-scoring double for Marquette. Derek Stone, Payton LeBombard, Sam Leow and McKinley Larson added RBI singles to make a winner of Blues hurler Ryan Walther.

“Payton had one of the bigger hits,” Swajanen said. “I put him in at DH (designated hitter) … and he gave us a 2-0 lead (in the second inning).”

After Ishpeming (1-5) was unable to score in the third after singles by Ozzy Corp and Marcus Antilla, the roof caved in on the Blue Storm.

Starting pitcher Corp had held the Blues to just the two runs, but was removed in the third in favor of Tyrus Millimaki.

“It was hard to pull Ozzy, but we want him to pitch (tonight) at home when we host Marquette,” Ishpeming manager Ryan Mahoski said. “It was the first time this season Tyrus had pitched for us.”

Millimaki promptly hit two batters, walked another and threw the four wild pitches that scored runs, leading to a 7-0 Blues lead.

“He struggled,” said Mahoski, who visited Millimaki on the mound to try to settle him down. “I told him to follow through on his pitches more. His release point was high.”

The Blues made it 9-0 in the fourth when Trevor Bratonia came off the bench and slammed his three-bagger that drove in the two runs.

“He (reliever Thomas Finnegan) was throwing me fast balls and I adjusted on the second strike that was pretty much down the middle,” Bratonia said. “I hit it down the (right field) line.

“I’ve only had 20 at-bats this year, so it was nice to get that hit. I have a tendency to lunge sometimes and put my foot out, but I kept my weight back this time and drove the ball.”

Finnegan, who Mahoski said hadn’t pitched for two years, was then tagged by Hanson’s RBI double and Larson’s run-scoring single to close out the scoring for the Blues.

Walther allowed but the two Ishpeming singles and three walks while striking out six.

“I only threw five pitches in the first inning, but once the game got going, I settled in,” he said. “I threw in a new pitch, a split-finger. That and my curve ball felt good.”

Walther was only in trouble in one inning other than the third, that being the second when he walked two before getting a forceout at second.

“He did a good job mixing his pitches,” Swajanen said. “He kept the ball around the plate and his off-speed stuff was good.”

Corp took the loss, giving up three hits and two runs in his two innings of work.