Mequon, Wis. — Despite late-game comeback efforts in both contests Monday, Lakeshore ( 13-15) ended up on the short end of the stick against Fond Du Lac (18-11) in both games, losing 7-6.
The first of two contests picked up in the third inning following dense fog that postponed last Friday’s game, a familiar fate as of late for the Chinooks.
Recollecting back to Friday though, Ohio State freshman Nate Haberthier started on the hill and looked out of sorts with a hit batter, stolen base and walk all allowed before the first out in the frame was reached. Three runs soon followed for Fond Du Lac and the Chinooks were trailing by three in a matter of minutes.
A dropped third strike ended up scoring veteran Griffin Doersching in the latter half of the inning, slicing the deficit one run at a time. Fond Du Lac answered again in the second with yet another run, extending the lead 4-1.
Three days of separation between Friday and Monday forced the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater junior Westin Muir to relieve Haberthier where he threw 99 pitches of dynamic baseball. Eight innings pitched on four hits, one earned run, two walks and seven strikeouts, not to mention a devastating curveball that was delivered frequently.
“I don’t necessarily throw the hardest but when I can get the curveball in the zone, pretty much any count that really helps me cause then the fastball plays up a little bit,” said Muir about what was working well this afternoon. “Guys were behind me, a lot of quick innings because guys were making plays in the field.”
Four innings of quiet baseball were played before the Chinooks gained much-needed ground to steal a game from Fond Du Lac, one that was controlled by the Dock Spiders up until the sixth inning. Right fielder Jackson Gray sustained a hot bat Monday, homering in two right in the sixth, recording two runs in favor of Lakeshore.
Griffin Doersching and Jackson Gray crossed home plate after Colin Mathews reached second on a bases-clearing RBI-double. A sacrifice fly in the tenth kept Lakeshore competitive in extra innings, but Fond Du Lac proved to be too strong, holding on through 11.
About an hour after the conclusion of the first game, game two was underway as right-hander Joe Glassey dialed in the first pitch. In both of Monday’s games, the Chinooks’ starting pitchers continued the team’s trend of allowing runs in the first inning.
“We just gotta come out and be mentally ready to go,” said field manager Travis Akre. “Take all the bullpen work and take it right to the field. Playing from behind right out the gate puts a lot of pressure on the offense.”
Typically this season, the Chinooks’ bats have answered the early call to action.
Lakeshore’s explosive offense sits at sixth in the Northwoods League with 163 scored this season, but the bats hardly showed up on Monday or at least not until later in the game.
The idea of a win slowly faded away from the Chinook faithful, as the offense looked dead and defeated.
Arizona State’s Kai Murphy took matters into his own hands, roping a homer to deep right field to tie the game at two, a play which appeared to wake up his teammates. Though not an instant catalyst, the Lakeshore offense finally was brought to life in the bottom of the eighth inning, when they scored four timely runs that tied up the game.
Four runs on four hits, including a massive bases-clearing double from Northwestern catcher Stephen Hrustich was the highlight of the inning. Hrustich’s double provided a spark that gave the team much-needed morale and swagger during their offensive drought.
Approaching the halfway point in the season, Akre mentioned once again the effectiveness of being disciplined at the plate and doing your job.
“The only thing you can control is controlling what you can control,” Akre said. “So come in every day with good preparation. We gotta be a little more disciplined in the box. When we’re in those positions. I thought we put a little bit of extra pressure on ourselves…I thought our guys were a little over-aggressive at times.”
Lakeshore drives up to Fond Du Lac to take on the second place Dock Spiders tomorrow night at 6:35 p.m. for the first of a four-game road trip.