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Clutch ‘Cats

Alpena baseball gets big hits from veterans in sweep of Blue Devils

April 29, 2012
By JAMES ANDERSEN - News Sports Editor ( , The Alpena News

The Alpena baseball team gained momentum at the right times on Saturday.

The Wildcats overcame some sluggish periods and came through with some clutch hitting to earn two wins over Sault Ste. Marie, 3-1 and 11-8, in a baseball doubleheader at Alpena High School.

Alpena (6-6) struggled with pitching in the nightcap, getting into several bases-loaded jams, but the Wildcats helped themselves with a seven-run fifth inning.

Article Photos

News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena catcher Zach Nash makes a catch for an out in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday at Alpena High School.

"I hope this helps us get out of our mini-slump here. I hope the confidence comes with that," Alpena coach Phil Schultz said. "These guys needed a little bit of life. We've been down, we lost a couple close games this week."

Alpena took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and added three runs in the third inning, before things quickly went south for the Wildcats in the top of the fourth inning.

With one out in the fourth inning, the Blue Devils loaded the bases and scored a run on a bases-loaded walk. A passed ball brought in another run and then a throwing error sent the ball to the backstop, allowing the Blue Devils to knot the game with two more runs.

Tyler Kirtland gave Sault the lead before the end of the inning and the Blue Devils added a run in the next inning to lead 6-4.

Before the fifth inning, Alpena assistant coach Tim Hoes told the Wildcats they needed to pick up their energy if they wanted to win.

"He said that we looked flat, we had to have more energy in the dugout and on the bases; just do all the little things out there and we were going to score and he was right," Alpena catcher Zach Nash said.

Alpena's bats picked up in the fifth inning as the Wildcats tallied seven runs, six of them coming with two outs.

Mitch Skiba led off the inning with a single before the Blue Devils got two quick outs. A few batters later, the bases were loaded for Ryan Hendricks, who hit a two-run single to tie the game at six.

Dylan Hoes was hit by a pitch to load the bases again and Alpena took the lead for good when Nash ripped a three-run triple to center field after the ball was misplayed by Sault's center fielder.

'I got up there and hit the ball, line drive, and thought it was right at him. The kid stood there and then he realized is was way to the right of him," Nash said. "I went around second and stumbled a little bit, fell over, the team got a laugh out of it."

The Wildcats added two more runs before the end of the inning to lead 11-6.

"That was big. We had a couple clutch hits. We had a couple of our upperclassmen come through, Ryan Hendricks with a two-run single and then Zach Nash with a three-run triple," Schultz said. "We've been lacking those clutch hits lately, so it was nice to see them come through."

Sault looked ready to make a comeback in the seventh inning after loading the bases with no outs. The Blue Devils scratched out two runs before the end of the game, one of those coming on an RBI single from Frank Bailey.

Skiba and Dylan Glennie led Alpena in the nightcap with three hits and an RBI each; Nash had two hits and three RBI; Hendricks had a hit and two RBI and earned the win on the mound; and Zachary Dewar had an RBI.

Brady Marwede threw a one-hit shutout for six innings in the opener to earn the win.

In the seventh inning, Sault loaded the bases with no outs, but Marwede induced a 1-2-3 double play and then struck out Addison Kennedy for the third out.

Marwede allowed a run on three hits, walked seven and struck out five, escaping several jams with solid pitching and some impressive assists from the outfield.

The Blue Devils' only run came on a throwing error and they stranded nine runners in the game.

Nash had two RBI for the Wildcats, who scored twice in the first inning and added a run in the third inning.

Hendricks, Marwede, Nash, Dewar and Chandler Bloom all had single hits and Hendricks scored two runs.



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