ESCANABA - Momentum turned the wrong way at the wrong time for the Escanaba Eskymos in the second game of a doubleheader Friday night as they dropped an 8-5 softball decision in eight innings to the Alpena Wildcats.
The Eskymos, behind the four-hit pitching of Codi Jenshak, won the opener 1-0.
Esky led 3-1 with two out in the seventh frame of the nightcap. But Alpena's Logan Myers then blooped a double into shallow leftfield off Kayli VanEffen to tie the score and force the extra inning.
"Kayli made a great pitch and got the result she wanted," said Esky manager John LaMarch. "Our defense couldn't make the play. Then, it seemed like we couldn't get an out and everything snowballed on us."
After the Eskymos failed to score in their half of the seventh, Alpena erupted for five runs in the eighth for a seemingly comfortable 8-3 advantage.
Sydney Gafner, however, cracked a single to right field to trim Esky's deficit to 8-4 in its half of the eighth and Jen Koish made it 8-5 on a double to right. The Eskymos then loaded the bases with one out, but were unable to reduce the deficit.
"First of all, I think these were two well-played games," said Alpena manager Paul Marwede. "It was just like watching playoff ball in the middle of June. The pitchers had control and each team had about 8-10 excellent defensive plays. Escanaba has a very nice team as always. They're well coached and they're disciplined. We appreciate being here and having a chance to play games like this."
Alpena's Rhi Adams had three hits, including a leadoff home run to left in the second. Claire Coops-Meske also collected three hits, and Kelli Stevens added a two-run single to center in the eighth among her two hits. The Wildcats (8-4) finished with 12 hits.
Esky had 10 hits, with Koish leading the way with three. Her double to right-center in the sixth gave the Eskymos a 3-1 lead.
Jenshak added a pair, including a go-ahead double to right in the fifth.
The Eskymos (5-2) had tied the score in the fourth on Braedyn Bosilovatz's double to left-center.
"I think this will be a good thing for our kids," said LaMarch. "Alpena is a good hitting team and the kids learned they can play against teams of this caliber. The kids are tough. We'll battle back."
VanEffen struck out one, walked none and allowed all eight runs and 12 hits through 7 1/3 innings. Laura Lewis took the win in relief of Corinn Gehke.
Jenshak fanned three and walked one in the opener. Lewis also went the distance and absorbed the loss. She whiffed four and walked none.
"That was a great defensive game," said LaMarch. "Codi pitched a real good game, and we did just enough to win the game."
Esky scored its run in the sixth.
"One mental letdown was the difference," said Marwede. "But John and I as coaches will take this kind of game anytime."
Esky plays in today's Ashwaubenon, Wis. Invitational, facing the host Jaguars in its opener. Alpena also resumes today, visiting Marquette for a twinbill.