Late rally burns Kingsford

ESCANABA – There are times when a coach will take unusual measures to motivate a team.

Such was the case for Escanaba assistant coach Mike Sheski Wednesday night as he did his best to help rally the troops to a 6-3 come-from-behind American Legion baseball victory over the Kingsford Blues.

The Cubs were without a hit and trailing 2-0 in the fifth inning after winning pitcher Andrew Sedlar retired the Blues in order.

Sheski then grabbed about a dozen bats and tossed them onto the ground in front of the Cubs’ dugout and yelled “wake up the bats” to the team’s players.

It appeared to work as the Cubs scored three runs each in the fifth and sixth frames for a 6-2 advantage.

“We used to do that years ago,” said longtime Cubs’ manager Tom Ohman. “You try to make the other teams think you’re a little crazy. Now if you do that, the fans look at you as if you’re nuts.”

Shortly after the Cubs picked up the bats and returned them to the dugout, Lewis Ostrander got them going with a one-out infield single, then quickly advanced to second base on a fielding error.

Ostrander trimmed Esky’s deficit in half on a single to leftfield by Tyler Scufka. Nick Vandermissen then gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead on a two-run single to left.

The Cubs increased their lead to 4-2 on Dave Falish’s sacrifice fly to right in the sixth and added a pair of runs on an error.

“They made some mistakes and we were able to take advantage of those,” said Ohman. “Hopefully, this is a sign we’re becoming a good team. We weren’t taking advantage of mistakes early in the season.”

Kingsford loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, but was limited to just one run.

The Blues opened the scoring on Wes Paupore’s single to left in the first and gained their two-run cushion on Noah Berg’s single to right in the second.

Esky finished with seven hits, including a pair by Ostrander.

Sedlar, who pitched six innings, struck out two, walked two and allowed two runs on four hits. Ostrander worked the seventh and was credited with the save.

Brandon Kowalski went the distance and took the loss. He fanned five, walked four and hit two batters. He had a no-hitter going into fifth prior to Ostrander’s infield single.

“Kingsford played well,” said Ohman. “We struggled with the outside pitch. Their starter dominated us for four innings. Sedlar starting throwing better for us tonight. He had been struggling for a few weeks. We needed to get him some innings. Once he got into a rhythm, he was able to get his curveball to work. We need to get him back into a groove.”

The Blues, who’ve recently had trouble fielding a full team, received help from four Channing players Wednesday.

“Kingsford has been having a hard time getting kids to play,” said Kingsford coach Jeff Paupore. “The Channing kids love to play and brought a positive attitude as did our kids. Brad Gustafson (of Channing) said this was the most fun he’s had playing all year. I could see this team forming into a solid unit if we had more time.”

Neither team will be playing in the post-season.

Justin Grailer had two of the five hits for Kingsford, which is scheduled to conclude its season at Niagara, Wis. Sunday. Channing is done for the year.