IRONWOOD — The pressure was on Ironwood Wednesday afternoon as the Red Devils needed a sweep to remain in a first place tie with Hurley in the Indianhead Conference.
The Red Devils responded with 26 runs in a dominating sweep as Ironwood took game one 11-1 and game two 15-6.
Ironwood and Hurley both have two losses in the conference and both teams have played the top squads in the conference already, leaving a tie for the title a probability. Drummond now has four losses in the conference after coming into the game in a three-way tie with Ironwood and Hurley.
“I knew we could do it,” Ironwood senior catcher Dani McCullough said of a sweep.
Ironwood, one of the top hitting teams around, had 37 at-bats and didn’t strike out or walk anyone in game 2. Payton Aho struck out and walked in game 1 and was the only Ironwood player to do either all day.
“They obviously came to hit,” Ironwood manager Noel Aho said. “They were patient tonight, but they usually take their share of walks.”
Tuesday’s games against Houghton where Ironwood scored 32 runs helped the Devils prepare for Wednesday in this shortened season, Aho said.
“Playing against a few faster pitchers and getting more at-bats, the more they get at-bats, the better they same to be getting,” Aho said.
It was a complete pair of games for the Red Devils, who had minimal trouble on the mound — Kassi Huotari picked up two wins — or defensively.
Game 1: Ironwood 11, Drummond 1
Ironwood hit the ball hard and forced the Lumberjills to make plays in the outfield.
They didn’t make them.
The outfield miscues cost Drummond at least six runs.
“I’ve never seen this team play like that before,” Drummond coach Ben Swanson said. “We still put the bat on the ball, but they were very uncharacteristic (errors) and they were obviously rattled by the mistakes that they made. They need to learn how to shake those off and make the next play.
“When we’re playing sharp on defense, we’re right there with the best of teams. Just tonight was obviously an off night for our defense.”
Drummond actually took a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a home run by Ashley Mossuto.
It was all Ironwood after that.
The Devils tied the game on a Kaitlyn Tollstam inside-the-park home run in the second inning.
Alyssa Schwab singled. The ball got past the centerfielder and Alyssa Huotari came home. That put Ironwood up 2-1.
Kassi Huotari’s RBI single put the Devils up 3-1.
Ironwood added three more runs in the third. Tiah Pusakulich tripled. Tollstam drove her in as the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Pam Romans’ blooper dropped in and Tollstam scored. Another run came home when Alyssa Huotari reached on an infield error.
The Devils scored five runs in the fourth inning.
Huotari picked up the complete-game win. She struck out two while walking just one and allowing three hits.
Drummond’s Christina Wickingson took both losses.
“She pitched a great game. She forced a lot of their good hitters into some easy pop ups and we should have had those outs,” Swanson said.
Drummond 1 0 0 0 0 — 1 3 0
Ironwood 0 3 3 5 x — 11 12 4
Game 2: Ironwood 15, Drummond 6
The Lumberjills weren’t deterred by their first-game effort, tallying two first-inning runs to take the early advantage.
But Ironwood took momentum right back with an eight-run second inning.
With two runners on, freshman Alyssa Huotari raked a triple down the rightfield line to bring both of them home and erase Drummond’s early advantage.
“That just kind of got us on a roll right from there,” Aho said.
Huotari reached base five times Wednesday.
“She’s probably as good of a hitter as everyone else on our team,” McCullough said of Huotari, who hits seventh in the order. “She was a little nervous at the beginning of the season, but now she’s kind of settled because she plays every game pretty much.”
The Devils pulled ahead when Kassi Huotari hit a ball to the shortstop. Drummond threw home and sister Alyssa slid home safely. There was contact, but the ball ended up at the backstop.
Payton Aho notched a two-run single for a 5-1 advantage.
McCullough put the dagger in, a two-run home run to left center. That put Ironwood up 7-1. That was McCullough’s second home run of the year.
“It was a perfect pitch,” she said.
Ironwood scored three runs in the third and four in the fourth. Drummond tallied three runs in the third and one in the fifth, but it just fell too far behind. The Lumberjills had five errors in the game, but Ironwood also tallied 16 hits.
Kassi Huotari pitched the whole way and struck out eight. She allowed seven hits and one walk.
Drummond is the top seed in the WIAA Division 4 regional. Ironwood goes to Rhinelander today for a doubleheader.
Ironwood 0 8 0 3 4 — 15 16 2
Drummond 2 0 3 0 1 — 6 7 5