HURLEY — In baseball’s equivalent of the Border Bowl, the Hurley baseball team swept a pitcher-depleted Ironwood team 9-1 and 16-8 in Indianhead Conference action at the Hurley K-12 field on Thursday.
Game 1 — Hurley 9, Ironwood 1
The Ironwood Red Devil baseball season has turned into a roller-coaster ride.
After posting a 16-5 record last season and having almost everyone back, the forecast was looked positive for another impressive season. But Ironwood’s No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers (Adam Mackey and Bryant Rowe) went down with injuries before the season.
The Red Devils had a number of younger players step up and fill the void. They jumped out to a 5-0 start and were the early season surprise in the Indianhead Conference. Then earlier in the week, Ironwood dropped a double-header to Solon Springs.
But the roller-coaster hit a new low when newly-installed No.1 pitcher Chris Dary went out with a foot injury. The sophomore’s ascension into an very effective pitcher (and player) was one of the big reasons Ironwood had its early success. Now the Red Devils will have to regroup again and find other players to step up, especially in the pitching department. And they will have to do it fast.
“Our age caught up with us today,” Ironwood manager Dan Niemi said. “People are more experienced than us and we keep losing pitchers. Our No. 4 pitcher goes to No.1 and our No.5 pitcher is now No. 2. We were down to nine guys tonight.
“It was like two young Senior League teams slugging it out. They were not great games, but we don’t quit and we’ll keep going.”
Hurley has been inconsistent this year and manager Aaron Bender has not been sure what Hurley team will show up for games. Thursday night’s effort was good enough for two wins and the Midgets have evened their overall record to 5-5.
Hurley got it rolling in the second inning of the first game. Brad Vaara walked and P.J Lipske lofted a fly ball down the right field line that turned into a double. Brad Innes walked to load the bases and Steven Chavers had an infield hit that scored Hurley’s first run. Mike Saari walked in a run and Cole Kivisto’s RBI single knocked in the fifth run.
The Midgets scored five more runs in the third inning. P.J. Lipske was safe on an error and Innes and Chavers drew walks. Mike Saari’s had an RBI sacrifice fly to center-field that produced a run.
The key hit of the inning was Kivisto’s long triple that produced three runs and gave Hurley a 9-0 lead after three innings.
Ironwood avoided the shutout in the fifth inning when Travis Mylly and Jon Clemens were hit by pitches and Jared Sobolewski laced a single to right that plated Mylly.
Sophomore Brett Ossana started for Ironwood and went the distance. He gave up nine runs (six earned) and six hits. But he surrendered seven walks that came back to haunt him.
Ironwood has a 5-4 overall record.
Brad Vaara started his second game of the season and picked up win No. 2. He only gave up one run on three hits in the five-inning game. He only walked one and hit two batters while striking out five.
“It was not a bad game for us,” Bender said. “We hit the ball hard after the first inning and had some hard line drives that were caught. But it all comes down to pitching. Brad Vaara was very, very consistent. I think he had one walk and that was important. All in all, a well-executed game for us.”
Kivisto led Hurley’s hitting by going 2-4 with four RBIs.
Ironwood 0 0 0 0 1 — 1 3 3
Hurley 0 4 5 0 x — 9 6 1
Game 2 — Hurley 16, Ironwood 8
Hurley defeated Ironwood 16-8 in a game that really wasn’t that close.
That’s because the Midgets had a huge 10-run first inning and never looked back. Lefty Denver Sharrow started for the Devils and only pitched to four batters. Beau Shafer was safe on an Ironwood error, Cole Huotari was hit by a pitch and Cole Kivisto roped an RBI double over the second baseman’s head.
When Roman Lupino walked, Niemi brought in another left-hander in Jake DiGiorgio. He walked Vaara and P.J. Lipske and Grant Innes swatted a single that plated two runs. Sharrow and DiGiorgio had very limited pitching experience, but Niemi was forced to bring in freshman Jon Clemens, who had not pitched this year.
Three more walks, an error and a two-RBI single gave Hurley 10 runs on only three hits in the first inning. Six walks and a hit batter were the biggest problem in the run-fest.
Hurley sent 15 batters to the plate in the first inning.
“It’s simple,” Bender said. “If guys are not throwing strikes, it gets ugly. We’ve done that and we’ve been down that road before. A tip of the cap goes to Jon Clemens who hung in there and Ironwood made some good defensive plays.”
Vaara also started the second game and the Devils tagged him for two runs in the first inning and three in the second. Singles by Travis Mylly and Clemens and doubles by Mylly, Jared Sobolewski and Ossana helped Ironwood’s pick up the five runs.
The problem for Ironwood was that the Midgets had such a big lead and kept scoring runs. Hurley added three runs in the second inning and in the fourth inning, Hurley picked up three more runs and took a 16-5 advantage behind hits by Innes, Mike Saari and Cole Kivisto .
Vaara pitched two innings and Kivisto came on to pitch the middle two innings. Austin Kolpin pitched the final inning and Ironwood scored two runs off his four walks.
Clemens pitched the final 4 2/3 innings for Ironwood and although he didn’t stop Hurley from scoring, he at least slowed the Midgets down. He gave up four runs on five hits.
Ironwood’s biggest nemesis was surrendering 10 walks and one hit batter.
Shafer, Kivisto and Innes paced the Midgets with two hits, while Clemens was 4-4 for Ironwood and Mylly had two hits.
But Niemi still believes in his team.
“We will keep the attitude we need and still have the will to win,” he said. “We played hard and guys will pick up the slack from day to day.”
Hurley travels to Solon Springs today for a doubleheader at 4 p.m.
Ironwood goes to Drummond for another doubleheader on Tuesday.
Hurley (10) 3 0 3 0 0 — 16 9 1
Ironwood 2 3 0 0 0 3 — 8 9 4