Whatever it takes

Alpena takes two from Sault Ste. Marie in home opener

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Owen Limback makes contact with a pitch during game one of a doubleheader against Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday at Alpena High School. Limback and the Wildcats swept their home opener 6-0 and 12-4.

The Alpena High baseball team still has some work to do at the plate.

But in their home opener, the Wildcats hit the ball well enough to get the job done, taking two non-conference games from Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday, 6-0 and 12-4 (four innings, called due to darkness).

Alpena managed 13 hits on the day, none for extra bases and took advantage of walks, errors and hit batters to plate several more runs.

The sweep gave Alpena (7-3) six straight wins.

“I’m glad we got to wins in our first time at home. I’m a little disappointed in our hitting right now,” Alpena coach Phil Schultz said. “Our bats are slow. We were slow last night a little bit and at times we’re stroking it pretty good. But other times, we’re not really being selective at the plate. We’re swinging at bad pitches and we need to fix that.”

After being blanked in the opener, Sault used four walks and two hit batters to plate three runs in the top of the first inning in the second game. Though they were no-hit through three innings, the Blue Devils still managed to score four runs.

Alpena responded to the first-inning deficit with its own rally. An RBI single from Keegan Spomer and an infield error allowed Alpena to tie the game at three after one inning.

“I was really pleased with that (rebound). We’ve done that a few times this year and been able to pick our pitching up and score a few runs,” Schultz said. “I was pretty confident that we would be able to score runs against these guys.”

The Wildcats took the lead for good in the bottom of the second inning, using walks and well-placed hits to score four times. Bruz Copping had a two-run single and Chris DeRocher had an RBI hit as Alpena took a 7-4 lead.

In something of a mirror image of the top half of the first inning, Alpena plated five more runs in the bottom of the third. The Wildcats first five batters reached on a walk, another walk, an error, a hit by pitch and a fielder’s choice for the first out.

Colin Donajkowski collected an RBI after being hit by a pitch, DeRocher scored on a run on the fielder’s choice, Jordan Schultz had an RBI groundout, and Clay Donajkowski had an RBI single.

DeRocher earned the win for Alpena, going 2 2/3 innings in relief while allowing no hits and one run with three strikeouts and a walk.

Copping and DeRocher each had a hit and two RBI for Alpena.

A combined pitching effort by Schultz, Aidan Goike and Clay Donajkowski limited the Blue Devils to just two hits in the opener. Sault left 11 runners aboard for the game and left the bases loaded three different times.

The Wildcats backed up the stellar effort on the mound with a five-run fourth inning and added a run in the fifth. Alpena strung together three singles between a pair of errors to take the lead and build on it. Owen Limback and Spomer each had RBI singles and Alex Cosbitt and Anthony Berg later drove in runs on groundouts.

Limback had an RBI groundout in the fifth inning to score Alpena’s last run.

Spomer finished the game with three hits and an RBI and Limback had a hit and two RBI.

Alpena got two quick outs in the top of the first inning, but Sault loaded the bases after two singles and a hit by pitch. The Wildcats escaped the jam with a strikeout.

Sault threatened again in the third inning, loading the bases with two outs again. Goike silenced the Blue Devils again with a strikeout. Clay Donajkowski stranded two Sault runners in the sixth with a pair of strikeouts and then shut down the Blue Devils again in the seventh inning, striking out a batter with the bases loaded to end the game.

Alpena returns to action on Saturday in a tournament in Boyne City. The Wildcats will be in a pool with Gaylord and Rogers City and the other pool will consist of Boyne City, North Muskegon and Rudyard.