A good day of ball
Rogers City bats stay hot as Hurons sweep Hillman
ROGERS CITY — Through its first four games of the regular season, the Rogers City baseball team has proven it can hit.
The Hurons improved to 4-0 on the season after sweeping North Star League rival Hillman 12-4 and 11-1 in a doubleheader on Monday at Schalk Field in Rogers City,
“We got in trouble in the first inning of the first game and couldn’t throw strikes and that’s been one of our downfalls early on. It just takes a while for us to get going,” Rogers City coach Eric Brege said. “We can score runs and we can hit the ball. We work on it a lot and we’ve been able to hit and score a lot in our first few games this season which is good to see.”
Hillman opened game one by scoring three runs in the top of the first inning as Nash and Gage Steinke both came across to score on wild pitches and Nic Taratuta scored a two-out RBI single off the bat off Isaac Morrison.
Hillman added another run in the second when Nash Steinke scored his second run in as many innings to put the Tigers up 4-0.
After a scoreless first inning where the Hurons left the bases loaded, the offense came through in a big way in the second inning. The first two Rogers City batters were retired and the Hurons went on a two-out rally after catching a break when Jaylen Fleming appeared to reach his arm around a tag and successfully stole second base.
Michael Karsten cashed in by singling home Karsten and Griffin Bredow to get the home team on the board. Austin Cook singled home Karsten and Hillman manager Rick Firman made a change on the mound, taking out Taratuta who started the game and Kory Henigan came on in relief trying to preserve the early two run lead.
Henigan threw two fastballs by Rogers City’s cleanup hitter Lewis Fleming to get ahead 0-2, but Fleming sent the next pitch over the left-center field fence for a two-run home run to give the Hurons a 5-4 advantage and lit the spark for Rogers City the rest of the night.
“We got lucky with that call and we came up with some big hits with two outs in that inning,” Brege said. “We’re just hitting the ball and hitting it hard all over the field and we had a couple guys come up big in different spots tonight so that was huge. We have a lot of guys that put the ball in play and that’s important to make good contact and put pressure on opposing defenses to make plays.”
Rogers City added four more runs in the fourth and three in the fifth as the Hurons’ final runs came across to score when Caleb Bade hit a two run blast with one out in the home half of the fifth to give Rogers City a 12-4 lead and one they hung onto win by.
Along with Fleming and Bade, Karsten went 3-for-4 in game one with a pair of runs scored and a pair of RBI. Austin Cook scored three runs and Jaylen Fleming went 2-for-4 with a run scored and stolen base out of the leadoff spot.
Bredow picked up the win, pitching 3 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out four. Kaleb Budnik came on in relief to finish the game and pick up the save pitching 2 1/3 innings of no-hit ball as he walked one batter and struck out one.
Fisher Linseman led Hillman going 2-for-3 at the plate and Nash Steinke added a hit, two runs scored and a pair of stolen bases.
“Rogers City squared the ball up quite a few times tonight and we have a lot of ball this week so we’re trying to set our rotation so we can win our league games and that was part of it, but we have to play defense and we didn’t play very good defense today and the guys know that,” Firman said. “It’s a process and we’re working on stuff. We just need to keep getting better every day and I think we can. I think talent wise, we have everything we need to be successful, but all we’re lacking right now is a little bit of focus, confidence and experience. All of that will hopefully come in time.”
The bats remained hot for Rogers City in the nightcap as they mercied the Tigers 11-1 in five innings.
The Hurons wasted no time putting runs on the board as Karsten doubled, scored on a wild pitch and Lewis Fleming singled home Budnik who had reached on a walk.
Hillman scored its only run in the top of the second inning when Taratuta led off with a triple and scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Linseman.
Rogers City regained its two run lead with a run in the bottom of the second then added two in the third, four in the fourth and finished the game with a pair of runs in the fifth when Jaylen Fleming crossed home plate on a wild pitch for the final run of the night.
Karsten once again went 3-for-4, scored a pair of runs and collected two RBI to finish off a strong night at the plate. Budnik and Jaylen Fleming each collected two hits. Budnik reached base in all three plate appearances and scored three runs. Jaylen Fleming scored twice and added an RBI.
Hillman was held to just one hit, the second inning triple from Taratuta as Karsten pitched 4 2/3 innings and picked up the win, allowing just the one run on one hit, while walking one and struck out five.