Negaunee, MI – May 3rd, 2019 – It was finally time for the first home baseball game of the season for the Negaunee Miners as they faced the Escanaba Eskymos on their home field on a mild Friday night. They were having a great start to the season, coming into the game undefeated, and they hoped to continue that streak.
The Negaunee Miners took the infield first to defend against the visiting Eskymos, but after a very long pitching battle, the first Escanaba batter walked on a 10-pitch set, which would be important later in the game due to pitch count limitations for pitchers in high school. With one on, the Eskymos failed to move the runner around the bases and gave up three quick outs after the first batter walked. Negaunee’s second batter drove the ball through a gap in the infield and made it to first, giving them a runner in the bottom of the first. Escanaba’s pitcher also began to suffer from high pitch counts after multiple batters went deep into the count. Late in the bottom of the first, the Negaunee drove in the first run of the game on a bloop single that made it past the second baseman, giving them a 1-0 lead at the end of the first.
Taking the field for the top of the second inning, the Negaunee Miners looked to defend their narrow lead. An Eskymo’s batter nailed a single out to the right fielder, and that allowed runners to move to the corners. The next two batters from Escanaba each put up singles, giving them a 2-1 lead over Negaunee. It was time for Negaunee to take the plate after a tough start to the second inning, and their first batter connected solidly on a pitch, However, the Eskymo’s third baseman made a great fielding play for their first out of the inning. Two more quick up and down batters ended the Negaunee Miners’ hopes for scoring in the second inning.
With the score still at 2-1 for Escanaba, the Negaunee Miners were once again on the mound to defend the field. A two-pitch out for the first batter of the inning gave the Miners some hope. The very next batter quickly found himself down in the count 0-2, and it seemed like Negaunee found some inspiration between innings after a great start to the third. A strikeout for Alex Munson brought down the final batter from Escanaba, and Negaunee took the plate with high hopes for retaking the lead. The Miners’ lead-off batter got on first thanks to a fast walk, putting the tying run on the bases. Negaunee’s runner made it home on an overthrown pick-off attempt, tying the game up thanks to a defending error to make the game 2-2 at the end of the third.
Defending the field again, the Negaunee Miners got a bit of luck for their second out of the inning when a hit actually ended up making contact with a runner before a defender could touch the ball. That meant the runner was out, the batter was sent to first, and the runner on third had to stay at third base. Eventually, the bases were loaded with two outs, but a great pitch forced a ground ball to the infield for the final out of the top of the inning. Tanner Peterson, the Miners’ first batter of the inning, had a great single while defending in the count, putting the go-ahead runner on first base. There were two down with two base runners for the Miners, however the Eskymos third baseman made a great fielding play, and stepped on the base for the final out of the inning with the score still locked at 2-2.
Shortly after the beginning of the fifth inning, Munson had nearly reached his pitch limit, forcing a pitching change with two Escanaba runners on base. A beautiful bunt from an Eskymos’ batter moved the base runners to second and third base. With the bases full, back-to-back bawks from the Negaunee Miners’ pitching set gave the Eskymos two easy runs, gifting them a 4-2 lead at the bottom of the fifth inning. The Miners’ lead-off batter smacked a long line drive, but that was the only action for Negaunee in the bottom of the inning. The score remained at 4-2 as the game moved into the top of the final inning.
Escanaba’s bottom of the lineup were the first to take the plate, but the Negaunee Miners seemed resolved to keep the Eskymos scoreless in the final inning. The Miners’ pitcher looked to be getting tired, walking the first batter of the inning, and a bobbled fly ball gave Escanaba runners on first and second base. Negaunee committed back-to-back unforced errors early in the inning, and that allowed the Eskymos to take a commanding 7-2 lead. Escanaba’s shortstop fielded an easy ground ball for the Miners’ first out of the inning, and they sensed their time running out as shouts of encouragement could be heard from the dugout. After the Escanaba pitcher reached is pitch limit, they brought in a freshman prodigy ace pitcher who destroyed the Negaunee lineup with a quick up and down set of outs.