Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Miners walk it off vs. Devils

By JASON JUNO

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Bessemer - Gogebic's Braylon Lane had been struggling a bit at the plate during Tuesday's game against rival Ironwood with the high pitches especially getting the best of him.

But when he had a chance to win the game for the Miners, he came through.

His single in the bottom of the fifth inning scored Jordan Libertoski and walked it off as Gogebic beat Ironwood 7-6 in the five-inning contest.

"I'd been struggling all day, I had a backwards K earlier in the game. It was rough, but everyone was telling me to keep my head up and good things will happen," Lane said. "He threw a fastball, it felt good when it hit the bat, tip of the bat a little bit, but it ended up being a little gapper and it put the game away."

The Miners came back from a 6-2 deficit; it was 6-5 Devils entering the fifth and the Miners completed the rally.

"Good win, happy to celebrate it with the team," Lane said. "Good team we got, hopefully we'll take home the district this year."

Gogebic coach Leo Ribich said he kept telling Lane to lay off those high pitches.

"I said, 'You're a leader on the team,' and I knew eventually he'd come through," Ribich said.

It was a win over another rival, Hurley, that gave the Miners some early-season confidence, Lane said. They are hoping to challenge defending champion Jeffers for the district title at the end of the month.

This victory over Ironwood kicks off the Copper Mountain Conference season right for the Miners.

"Big win for this group," Ribich said.

The Miners tied it as Gabe Harju's hit was mishandled in the infield. That set up Lane's big two-out hit to give Gogebic the victory.

"We gave them five outs," Ironwood coach Cody Kurta said. The tying hit, "we induce an easy groundball, with two outs, you've got to make that play."

CJ Wainio got the win on the mound. He struck out six, but the Devils also tallied seven hits.

Hits by CJ Feezor, Eli Ruotsala, who doubled to the concession stand in left, and Ethan Gallo all drove in runs as Ironwood took a 4-2 lead in the second inning. They made it a 6-2 advantage with two more runs in the third inning. Evan Oja doubled in that frame.

"Ironwood hit the ball against our best; I've got to tip my hat to them," Ribich said. "That's the best hitting team we've seen thus far."

The Miners pulled within 6-5 with a three-run third inning, setting up the exciting fifth-inning finish.

Ironwood suffered the same fate against another rival, Hurley, last week. They led until miscues cost them in a seventh-inning rally by the Northstars.

Kurta said his team came to play and hit the ball well against a great pitcher. But errors continue to cost them.

"I am proud of the way the boys played except in the field," he said. "It's April, it's early, we're a young team, but we're not going to win many ballgames with fielding like that. Our outfield played well, but on the infield, we made way too many mistakes and gave them easy runs."

Brendan McCullough started and Ethan Gallo relieved him, taking the loss.

Ironwood (5-8)  hosts Ewen-Trout Creek Friday.

Gogebic (3-0) goes to L'Anse that day.

 
 
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