Two big victories

The Alpena baseball team was tested by conference rival Gaylord on Tuesday, but came away with two one-run victories against the Blue Devils to remain undefeated in Big North Conference play.

“It was clutch to come away with two one-run wins. Each team took advantage of mistakes and I was just glad that we came out on top,” Alpena coach Phil Schultz said.

The Wildcats were able to score three runs in the final two innings to take game one by a score of 5-4. Both teams scored a run in the first inning, but it was Alpena who gained the early advantage as the two Rhetts put the Wildcats in front when Rhett McDonald came across to score on an RBI single from leadoff hitter Rhett Limback.

Gaylord responded scoring a run in the third and fourth inning to regain a one-run lead. The Wildcats tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on a heads up baserunning play from senior Nick Skiba who scored from second base on a routine ground ball to short where the catcher went to back up the throw across behind first base, leaving no one at home plate as Skiba sprinted across to tie the game at three.

Alpena took a two run lead in the home half of the sixth when McDonald scored on a wild pitch and Lars MacArthur scored on a throwing error.

The Blue Devils did not go down quietly as they cut the lead to within one, but Tucker got Levi Irish to fly out to left field with the bases loaded to secure the complete game win.

Alpena pitcher Dylan Tucker struck out five in the ball game, while scattering eight hits on his way to the victory.

MacArthur led the Wildcats reaching base safely in all three of his plate appearances going 2-for-2 with a double, walk and a stolen base.

Alpena was able to hang on to win game two by a score of 2-1.

The Blue Devils again wasted little time taking the lead, scoring a run in the top of the first off of Skiba. After walking three batters in the first three innings, Schultz made the switch to return Skiba to centerfield as MacArthur came into relieve Skiba and went on to shut out Gaylord the rest of the night.

“One of the things I like about Nick is that he is such a value on defense and the way things were shaping up, I had a lot of confidence in Lars coming in because I know he throws strikes and goes after hitters and I felt better with Nick in center and Lars on the mound and it ended up working out for us,” Schultz said.

Alpena tied the game in the third inning when MacArthur scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Ben Matteson. An inning later the Wildcats took the lead for good when Cam Cosbitt drew a leadoff walk, stole second and third then eventually came into score on a big two-out double by Joe Ayala.

MacArthur made sure Gaylord wouldn’t take the lead back, limiting the Blue Devils’ chances the rest of the way as he finished the game pitching the final four and two thirds innings, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out three on his way to picking up the victory and putting a stamp on a solid night.

Irish was the tough luck loser as he surrendered just three hits, coming off the bats of Ayala, MacArthur and Braedan Werth.

Alpena improves to 11-3-1 overall and stays a perfect 5-0 in conference play.

The Wildcats will be back in action on Friday when they play Algonac to kick off their MacKenzie Invitational.

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.