Legion Railroaders unable to hold on
By CRAIG REMSBURG
For The Daily News
MARQUETTE – It didn’t look good for the Marquette Blues in the second game of an American Legion baseball doubleheader against visiting Channing Wednesday.
Trailing 6-4 and down to their last out with no one on base in the eighth inning, the Blues appeared destined to settle for a split in the twinbill after winning the opener, 13-3, in five innings.
But the host team rallied for three runs – the last two coming on a walk-off single by Derek Stone – to take a 7-6 triumph and improve to 18-8 on the season.
“They never give up fighting,” Blues manager Derek Swajanen said of his team. “We haven’t gotten the big hit this year, but today, we did.
“It was a good team win.”
Stone got behind 0-2 after Ryan Walther had hit a single to left, Hunter Larson a single to right and Ryan Hanson a run-scoring double to left-center to cut the Blues’ deficit to 6-5.
“When I first got down 0-2, I was expecting curve balls,” Stone said. “But he (Channing starting pitcher Cody Berg) kept throwing me fastballs to get me to swing.
“I was expecting a curve ball on that last pitch, but it was actually a fastball.
“I thought they were going to catch the ball, but it dropped in,” he added. “That’s when my heart started pumping.”
The Railroaders (8-6) had scored twice in the top of the eighth on an RBI-single by Berg and a bases- loaded, run-scoring walk by brother Noah Berg.
“After we laid an egg in the first game, we played a heckuva lot better in the second,” Channing manager Rob Berg – father to Cody and Noah – said.
“(The Blues) just had four nice hits (at the end).
The manager added he had no thoughts of relieving Cody in the eighth.
“He’s our workhorse and there was no one else (to pitch),” Rob Berg said. “We’re weak in the pitching department and have some sore arms.”
Kenny Pekarek led a 14-hit Channing attack with three hits, including a solo home run and a double. Logan O’Neil and Dominic Christian added two hits each.
The Railroaders took a 2-0 third-inning lead, but also stranded seven baserunners – including the bases loaded in the second – in the first three frames.
“We left guys on base way too many times,” Rob Berg conceded. “We have to capitalize in those situations.”
Trevor Bratonia took the win in relief of Ryan Hanson, who went 4 1/3 innings after taking over from Blues starter Colin O’Neal.
Cody Berg wound up allowing 13 hits and five walks while striking out seven.
Luke Swajanen gave up the three runs on just three hits and eight walks in five innings in the opener. He fanned six.
“The wheels just fell off,” Channing manager Berg said. “We tried a couple of new kids at pitcher and (the Blues) hit the ball well. We also had a lot of errors.”
Channing dropped a doubleheader at Gladstone on Tuesday, falling 7-4 and 10-0.
Logan O’Neil suffered the Game two loss, allowing five hits and six runs, fanning three and walking one through three innings.
Cody Berg went the distance in the first game, striking out five and walking six.
Channing, now without Cole Grenier who left to play with Appleton, travels to Ishpming Saturday for another doubleheader.
Box scores for Marquette follow:
Channing 000 30 3 3
Marquette 004 63 13 7
WP: Luke Swajanen, 5IP, 3R, 3H, 6K, 8BB
LP: Noah Berg, 1.1IP, 6R, 3H, 0K, 5BB
Marquette Blues: Ryan Walther, 3 hits and 3 RBIs; Hunter Larson, 2 hits (double) and 3 RBIs
Channing 002 002 02 6 14
Marquette 001 300 03 7 13
WP: Trevor Bratonia, 2/3IP, 0R, 0H, 0K, 0BB
LP: Cody Berg, 7.2IP, 7R, 13H, 7K, 5BB
Channing: Kenny Pekarek, 3 hits (solo homer, double), RBI; Logan O’Neil, 2 hits; Dominic Christian, 2 hits, RBI
Marquette Blues: Derek Stone, 2-run single; Ryan Hanson, 2 hits, RBI; Ryan Walther, 2 hits; Hunter Larson, 2 hits; Levi Underwood, 2 hits; Colton Wiggins, 2 hits.