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‘Guys love him already’: Olson leads Lakeshore to victory

Mequon, Wis. — Welcome back, Justin Olson.

Chinooks’ 2019 alum [Justin] Olson stepped into the batter’s box with the bases juiced in the third inning. And with the count at 3-2 count the southern Nevada product RBI-doubled down the right-field line, emptying the bases.

Lakeshore (5-7) took advantage of the minimal scoring opportunities Thursday, in way of a 3-2 win over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (3-7).

“I was just looking for the fastball up, and he gave it to me,” Olson said. “It was big that the guys before me got on base and gave me the opportunity to get that hit. It was a good team effort all the way around.”

However, field manager Travis Akre said it’s not just about Olson’s on-the-field talents people admire.

“He has been itching to get back to the ballpark and get back with Lakeshore and I’m glad it finally worked out,” Akre said. “He’s good in the dugout, guys love him already, he just has that effect, and it’s great.”

It smelled like trouble out of the gates for the Chinooks though in the first. Left-fielder Couper Cornblum stood 180-feet from home, in scoring position, while designated hitter McKinley Erves stood at first.

For the good or bad, something was happening with only one out and Xavier’s Dorsey Chatham on the hill.

Fortunately, for Lakeshore, the best possible case scenario. The next batter sent a liner to shortstop Mack Timbrook who flipped the ball over to Colton Bauer at second, earning the 6-4 force out to end the inning.

The pitching on the other hand stood out over the next couple of frames. Chatham retired both sets of batter’s with ease despite surrendering a walk to begin the second inning.

After surrendering a walk to begin the second, it was a 1-2-3 inning, and for Chatham’s sake, the third was a mirror image, minus the walk.

Although Olson completed the dirty work, several players in the lineup lit the fuse first. It was none other than Brennen Bales who took charge. A two-out single to left provided the spark, and consecutive walks from Jackson Gray and Josh Glenn soon followed.

Dominant describes the past few days for Bales, an absolute slugfest. Nine hits in three days, highlighted by two, three-hit displays on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

“We didn’t get a whole lot going offensively, but we did enough,” Akre said.

Now despite the bullpen giving one run in the sixth inning, they held their own too. Jason DeCicco, Tyler Schweitzer and Tyler Kean combined for five innings pitched on one earned run, two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.

“I thought we pitched it extremely well tonight and I thought that was the key for us tonight,” Akre said.

Schweitzer took the mound last Saturday, a date with the Kokomo Jackrabbits that ended up leaving a sour taste in the mouth of Lakeshore faithful and Schweitzer, presumably. When on the bump, the Ball State product allowed two runs on four hits, just what Kokomo needed to win.

But Thursday was different, he went scoreless through 1.1 innings, hitless too.

“He [Tyler Schweitzer] is a bulldog,” Akre said. “He loves being on the mound, he is a competitor. And that is something we feel very confident about our club is having him on the back end of our bullpen. He has a high motor and wants to compete. And for him to have that kind of moxie, it shows to the rest of the guys too.”

To note, out of the last nine times the Chinooks have played the Rapids Rafters, Lakeshore has walked away with seven wins and they will look to do the same Friday.

“Sun comes up and we do it again tomorrow with these guys,” Akre said. “We have to build some momentum off of the last two games here.”

Lakeshore is back at Kapco Park Friday for the second game of the series against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, with the first pitch at 6:35 p.m.