Letting it slip away

Wildcats swept in BNC doubleheader against Petoskey

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena head coach Phil Schultz makes a pitching change after taking the ball away from Chandler Lantz in the seventh inning of game one of a Big North Conference doubleheader on Tuesday. The Wildcats were swept at home by Petoskey.

After winning a district championship a year ago, the Alpena High baseball team has had an up-and-down season.

Things didn’t get any better on Tuesday as the Wildcats dropped a Big North Conference home doubleheader against Petoskey, losing by scores of 5-1 and 11-5.

Alpena got a good outing in game one from Lucas Crosby as he dueled with Northmen pitcher Joel Wilson in a classic pitching battle through six innings.

The Wildcats opened the scoring in the second inning when Bruz Copping led off with a solo home run to give the home team an early lead.

Crosby held onto the one run advantage until the sixth inning when Petoskey was able to scrape across the tying run. Taylor Troxel led off with a single and advanced to second on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Gabe Whitmore. Crosby got Wilson to ground out to second a batter later as Petoskey had a runner on third with two away when Lucas Muller stepped in and delivered a run scoring double to tie the game.

Copping hit a one out double in the home half of the sixth, but was left stranded after Wilson got the next two Wildcat batters to fly out.

Crosby went out for the seventh, but faced just one batter as he walked Ty Sobczak to begin the inning and Alpena coach Phil Schultz made the decision to bring in Chandler Lantz.

Trent Schrage executed a sacrifice bunt to move Sobczak to second. Janssen Byers was hit by a pitch to put runners on second and third with one away. Lantz struck Keaton Walker out looking and was just one out away from getting out of a jam.

Alpena decided to give Troxel an intentional pass to load the bases and the Northmen made Alpena pay for its decision as they tagged Lantz with back-to-back hits as Whitmore singled in a run and Wilson gave himself some extra run support with a two RBI single to put Petoskey up 4-1. Lantz issued consecutive walks that brought home another run before being removed from the game with the Northmen up 5-1.

“Part of the decision was pitch count, but part of it was Lucas hasn’t been too sharp in the later innings so we went with Lantz who has been reliable and throws strikes, but he just wasn’t on today unfortunately,” Schultz said. “If you look back on it, maybe you leave Lucas in there, but I just went by the history of what’s been going on and it just didn’t work out this time.”

Clay Donajkowski came in and struck out the final batter of the inning and the Wildcats were retired in order in the seventh as Wilson finished off his complete game gem.

Wilson pitched all seven innings, allowed one run on six hits and struck out eight batters.

Crosby pitched six innings, allowed two runs on three hits, issued two walks and struck out two batters and was the tough luck loser.

Offensively for the Wildcats, Copping went a perfect 3-for-3 and was a triple shy of the cycle. Aidan Goike was 2-for-3 and Lantz added a double in the game.

Alpena started off the nightcap strong, scoring two runs in the top of the first as Chris DeRocher singled in Lantz and Copping to give the Wildcats an early two run lead.

Petoskey scored one run in the home half of the first and took a lead in the bottom of the second as the Wildcats committed several costly errors and were sloppy defensively in the early innings of game two.

The Northmen took advantage of the errors and plated three runs in the second to take a lead they eventually wouldn’t give up.

The closest Alpena got the rest of the way was when they cut the lead to 4-3 with a run in the top of the third inning when Lantz hit a home run down the left field line.

Petoskey responded by batting around the order, scoring six runs to take a 10-3 lead as DeRocher ran into control issues on the mound and was pulled after just two innings of work.

“I just told the guys we had to regroup, flush it and get rid of it then come back and play our game. We started out good, but we didn’t sustain it and that’s frustrating as a coach because you’re at home, playing against a quality league team and we just didn’t have the mojo,” Schultz said. “It’s been a tough season and things didn’t pan out right. We were battling a lot of the elements. Today was tough to because we have to come back with conference games on Thursday so we didn’t get to pitch our one and two’s here today because we had to save some for Thursday and it was a real juggling act. Fortunately, the league is pretty wide open and it’s good to see that.”

Petoskey scored its final run of the night when Wilson blasted a solo home run in the fifth.

The Wildcats scored a run in the sixth and one in the seventh, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Northmen held on for a lopsided win.

Petoskey got another solid outing on the mound, this time from Sobczak who went six innings , allowed four runs on six hits and struck out seven.

DeRocher started the game for Alpena, going just two innings before being relieved by Logan Guthrie who pitched the next innings. Goike came on to pitch an inning and 2/3 before Lars MacArthur came on to finished the game for the Wildcats.

At the plate, DeRocher went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Lantz was 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored. Copping added two hits and an RBI and Owen Limback and MacArthur each singled in the losing effort.

Alpena falls to 6-8 overall on the year and 2-4 in conference play.

The Wildcats return to the diamond today when they host Cheboygan.