Johannesburg-Lewiston takes down Forest Area in baseball doubleheader
FIFE LAKE – The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team showed how dangerous its bats can be by dispatching host Fife Lake Forest Area 12-1 and 13-0 in a Ski Valley Conference doubleheader Monday.
J-L sophomore Brandon Huff led the offense in the first game and finished 2-for-3 and drove in three runs. Senior Hunter VanDeKerchove was 3-for-3 with one RBI, sophomore Logan Huff added three hits and two RBIs, and junior Trevor Pickelmann and seniors Coalton Huff (one RBI) and Brad Kussrow (two RBIs) posted two hits apiece. The Cardinals out hit Forest Area 15-1 in the game.
Coalton Huff pitched five innings, fanned 12 batters and walked one to help the Cardinals win the second game.
VanDeKerchove again was lights out and finished 3-for-3 with four RBIs, while sophomore Joel Kussrow was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and senior Sean Paris was 2-for-3 with one RBI. J-L recorded 13 in the contest.
Johannesburg-Lewiston's bats dominate Rogers City in baseball doubleheader
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity baseball team displayed its hitting prowess Tuesday as it downed visiting Rogers City 16-1 and 13-6 in a doubleheader.
J-L senior slugger Hunter VanDeKerchove was 3-for-3 and drove in three runs to catapult the Cardinals past Rogers City in the first game.
Juniors Trevor Pickelmann and Jac Bandt, and sophomore Logan Huff each posted two hits and two RBIs apiece.
On the mound, sophomore Brandon Huff allowed four hits, no walks and struck out two batters.
J-L senior pitcher Sean Paris allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings to propel the Cardinals to a win in the second game.
VanDeKerchove again led the J-L offense by finishing 3-for-4 and posting two RBIs, while senior Coalton Huff and sophomore Brendan Prentice each recorded two hits and two RBIs.
Johannesburg-Lewiston fights tough winds to split baseball doubleheader with Bellaire
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team thwarted vicious winds to split a Ski Valley Conference doubleheader with visiting Bellaire on Monday.
Bellaire took advantage of four J-L errors to defeat the Cardinals 3-2 in the first game.
J-L senior pitcher Coalton Huff threw 6 1/3 innings, struck out six batters and allowed six hits and four walks.
Huff also led the Cardinals on offense with two hits and two stolen bases, while senior Brad Kussrow finished with one hit and two RBIs.
Kussrow hit a shot to center field that allowed senior Hunter VanDeKerchove to score the game’s first run in the third inning.
Bellaire scored one run in the fourth after sophomore Logan Huff whiffed on a routine throw to second base.
One inning later, Kussrow smacked a sacrifice fly ball to outfield that brought Logan Huff home to make the score 2-1.
Bellaire scored the equalizer in the sixth off a sacrifice fly that enabled the runner on third base to sprint home. A couple of batters later, a wild pitch thrown by J-L senior Sean Paris helped Bellaire score the game-winning run.
J-L finished with six hits and nine stolen bases but left a staggering seven betters on base. The Cardinals had runners in scoring position twice.
J-L used back-to-back three-run innings to down Bellaire 6-4 in the second game.
Logan Huff pitched five innings, struck out seven batters, and allowed nine hits and only one walk.
VanDeKerchove smacked two hits for three RBIs, sophomore Brandon Huff had one hit and three stolen bases, and Logan Huff hit a triple.
VanDeKerchove hit a single that drove home junior Trevor Pickelmann for the game’s first score in the third inning. On the next at bat, Logan Huff drilled a triple to left field that allowed VanDeKerchove to race home. Coalton Huff capped off the inning by hitting a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Logan Huff.
Bellaire mustered four runs in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead. The Eagles scored on a two-run double, one-run single and a throwing error by Logan Huff.
In the bottom of the fifth, J-L retaliated after Bellaire walked the Cardinals’ first two batters and hit their third to load the bases.
With the bases loaded, Pickelmann hit a one-run single to tie the game 4-4. VanDeKerchove hit a single of his own on the next at bat to drive home the game's final two runs.
J-L finished with six hits, five RBIs, and nine stolen bases. It also committed another four errors.
J-L (8-6, 3-3) hosts Onaway at 4:30 p.m. Thursday before hosting the Val Kapture tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston blanks Gladwin at Standish-Sterling baseball tournament
STANDISH – The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team quickly rebounded from a mercy-rule loss to defeat Gladwin 8-0 in a consolation game at the Standish-Sterling Invitational on Saturday.
Standish-Sterling used a five-run third inning to defeat J-L 14-1 by mercy rule in the first round of the tournament.
J-L sophomore Brandon Huff struck out four batters and allowed six earned runs from the mound.
Senior Coalton Huff led J-L with two doubles and one RBI, while junior Dan Nieman finished with two hits.
“Standish-Sterling had one of the best pitchers I’ve seen live in two or three years,” J-L coach Rick Guild said.
The Cardinals regrouped after the game, and sophomore Logan Huff posted two hits and two RBIs to help them take down Gladwin in Game 2. Senior Hunter VanDeKerchove added two hits and a double, and Coalton Huff had two RBIs.
“We hit the ball well and played as good as you can play without making any errors,” Guild said.
Nieman was top notch pitching, as he allowed two hits and two walks while striking out three.
J-L (7-5, 2-2 Ski Valley Conference) hosts Bellaire at 4:30 p.m. Monday before hosting Onaway at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston earns win against host Mancelona in baseball
MANCELONA – The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team split a doubleheader against host and Ski Valley Conference foe Mancelona on Thursday.
J-L had runners in scoring position twice but still fell to Mancelona 4-2 in the first game.
J-L senior Coalton Huff and sophomore Joel Kussrow each finished with one hit and one RBI apiece, while Huff also pitched a complete game, allowing five hits, five walks, three earned runs and striking out seven.
The Cardinals’ bats came alive in the second game as they defeated Mancelona 7-4.
J-L led Mancelona 4-3 entering the fifth inning. With two runners on base, junior Jac Bandt used a sacrifice bunt to load the bases, and junior Trevor Pickelmann hit a three-run triple to give the team a commanding lead.
Senior Hunter VanDeKerchove led J-L with two hits, while Sean Paris recorded a key RBI in the contest.
“I saw a lot of positive things out of the hitters, but we have a lot of young kids and haven’t been outside enough to get a feel for live-arm pitching,” J-L coach Rick Guild said. “We’re starting to come around, and I saw some upside out of them.”
In the second game, sophomore Logan Huff pitched four innings, struck out three batters and allowed seven hits, three runs and one walk.
Johannesburg-Lewiston defeats visiting Ellsworth by mercy rule
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team called upon its younger players to defeat visiting Ellsworth by mercy rule in a doubleheader Tuesday.
J-L sophomore Orin Kierczynski led the Cardinals with two hits and one RBI in the first game, while freshman Cody Haase recorded one hit and one RBI.
Sophomore Brandon Huff struck out seven of the nine batters he faced and only allowed one hit.
Junior pitcher Dan Nieman allowed two hits, one run and fanned eight batters in the contest.
Rivals Johannesburg-Lewiston, St. Mary split baseball doubleheader in season opener
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston and St. Mary baseball teams split a doubleheader on a rainy, wet Monday night. It was the home opener for J-L and the first pair of games of the season for St. Mary, so it was fitting the Otsego County rivals squared off for a Ski Valley Conference contest.
In the first game, the Cardinals defeated St. Mary 4-2 and capitalized on a trio of errors to secure the win.
J-L scored two unearned runs to take a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Coalton Huff and sophomore Logan Huff each smacked singles to drive home runs in the inning.
The Cardinals added an insurance run off of a St. Mary error in the fourth.
Coalton Huff led the Cardinals on the mound by throwing a complete game, allowing six hits and striking out six batters. He also recorded a double to go along with his RBI on offense.
“Coalton Huff pitched well in the first game,” J-L coach Rick Guild said. “He wasn’t as sharp as he has been in past games, but he pitched well. He got his fastball over but his curve wasn’t sharp, so he relied on his fastball.”
St. Mary sophomore John Paul Zielinski and senior Brendon Nowicki paced the Snowbirds on offense with one RBI apiece.
“Our offense let us down a bit in the first game,” St. Mary coach Matt Nowicki said. “We sputtered at times when we needed it with runners in scoring positions.
“Coalton Huff pitched a pretty good game. He did a good job keeping us off balanced.”
J-L’s Logan Huff finished with two hits, one double and one RBI, while Hunter VanDeKerchove had two hits and Brad Kussrow had one.
St. Mary pitcher Brendon Nowicki threw a complete game, allowed seven hits and two walks, and fanned three batters.
“Brendon pitched a really good game,” St. Mary coach Matt Nowicki said. “He was around the plate, and they put some good swings on him a couple of times. He wasn’t wild, and he threw a lot of strikes.”
St. Mary changed its fortune in the second game as the Snowbirds defeated J-L 4-3 by carrying a 4-0 lead into the third inning.
The Cardinals loaded the bases twice in the game but were unable to manufacture runs.
Coalton Huff and VanDeKerchove each recorded RBIs.
J-L senior pitcher Sean Paris started the game but was pulled after the first inning. Logan Huff finished the game and allowed five hits, two walks and struck out three batters.
“St. Mary hit Sean hard,” Guild said. “Logan Huff came in for relief with one out in the second inning. He pitched well the rest of the game and gave up only one run.”
St. Mary pitcher Anthony Zielinski fanned six batters, walked three and allowed no earned runs.
“Anthony Zielinski pitched a really good game, but we played worse defensively,” Nowicki said. “Anthony got into a jam in the fifth and sixth innings with the bases loaded twice and less than two outs. He was able to pitch out of it.”
Zielinski injured his ankle earlier in the game after a line drive hit him in the leg. Nowicki believed that affected Zielinski's pitching.
Nick Harrington, Nick Torsky and Zielenski each recorded two hits in the game.
J-L (3-3, 1-1) hosts Ellsworth at 4 p.m. Tuesday before visiting Mancelona at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Guild said J-L must improve its batting before getting into the heart of the conference schedule.
“We’re not really hitting the ball the way that I like right now,” Guild said. “I don’t know what, but I thought St. Mary hit the ball well throughout their line up.
“We need to be outside and see live pitching as much as possible. It’s early, but I think we’ll start hitting the ball yet. We showed spurts but we’re not hitting the ball as well as we’d like.”
St. Mary (1-1) visits Fife Lake Forest Area at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Nowicki was pleased with how his team played against rival J-L and also thought the team did well in the season opener.
“We always play J-L pretty tough, and they did a good job capitalizing on our mistakes,” Nowicki said. “It was our first game, so I was happy.
“We missed offense opportunities and had base runners we couldn’t push around in the first game. We were over aggressive at the plate to start, but we settled down and got some great production a lot of our kids.”
Johannesburg-Lewiston shuts out visiting Alanson in baseball doubleheader
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston held visiting Alanson scoreless in a doubleheader on Thursday.
The Cardinals defeated Alanson 4-0 in the first game after scoring three runs in the fourth inning.
J-L senior Brad Kussrow smacked a double in the first inning to bring the game’s first run home.
Senior Coalton Huff pitched a complete game, allowing two hits, three walks and recording 10 strikeouts.
“We played good defense, and Coalton was dominate on the mound,” J-L coach Rick Guild said. “He mixed his pitches up really well and had good control.
“He got a little tired in the sixth inning, because he hasn’t pitched this much this early. Other than that, I thought he threw really well.”
Huff also hit a double on offense in the contest.
The Cardinals used 16 hits on offense to shut out Alanson 14-0 in the second game.
Coalton Huff finished with three hits and four RBIs, and Logan Huff had three hits and two RBIs. Joel Kussrow also had one RBI.
“Their pitcher was decent, but we finally woke up our bats,” Guild said. “We scored 11 runs in the first inning on eight hits. That second game is the way we should hit most of the year.”
Sean Parrish led J-L on the mound. He pitched two innings, mowed down six batters and only allowed one walk and one hit. Brandon Huff threw two strikeouts in the third inning, and Logan Huff struck out four batters and only allowed two hits to close out the game.
J-L (2-2) hosts St. Mary at 4:30 p.m. on Monday before hosting Ellsworth at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
“If our bats stay awake, we’re looking forward to playing this year,” Guild said. “Our catching has been excellent, and our pitching has been good. As long as our bats come alive, we’ll be fine.”
HILLMAN – The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team dropped a doubleheader 4-1 and 5-2 to host Hillman in the season opener on Friday.
In the first game, Coalton Huff allowed four hits and two earned runs, and Brandon Huff allowed one earned run.
Hillman’s arms limited J-L’s hitters. Logan Huff led with two hits, while Coalton Huff had a one-RBI double.
“Hillman has very good pitching,” Guild said. “It’s the first time seeing a live arm, and they have as good as pitching as we’ll see all year.”
J-L lost a heartbreaker in the second game as it had five errors that resulted in four unearned runs in the fourth inning.
Hillman scored one run in the fifth to close out the contest 5-2.
Joel Kussrow led J-L with two hits, while Trevor Pickelmann had a sacrifice fly to help bring in a run in the fourth. Logan Huff had one hit.
Sean Parrish, Brandon Huff and Logan Huff each pitched in the game.
“I was pleased with our pitching,” Guild said. “We played good defense other than the one inning.
“Sometimes one error compounds another, and mental errors contribute to it, too. In baseball, one bad inning can hurt you, and that’s how they beat us.”
J-L (0-2) hosts Alanson, weather permitting, at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“I think Hillman will be the best team we’ll play all year,” Guild said. “It was the first time we’ve been outside all year, but that’s not an excuse. It’s just what it is.”
District title in sight for Johannesburg-Lewiston this season
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston Cardinals baseball team will use veteran experience to propel the team to a Ski Valley Conference championship and a district title this season.
J-L has four sophomores who played last year, three of which started as freshmen, and there should be a youthful presence on the team.“I’ve got some seniors back, and we have a few juniors, so it’s kind of a mix of talent this year,” J-L coach Rick Guild said. The seniors will pave the way for their up-and-coming teammates and help them learn the ropes this season.
Senior Coalton Huff and sophomore Brandon Huff have pitched well during spring practice. If they find their consistency, they will be dominant this year. Senior Sean Parrish will also round out the Cardinals' pitching staff, and all of them will be key contributors to the team's success.
“If our pitching comes around, we’ll have a good team,” Guild said.
The weather has played a role in how the team prepares for the season.
Playing in the gym can be helpful but it can’t replicate the feel of playing on the field. With snow outside, the team was forced to take fly balls in the parking lot with a tennis racket.
Like many other Otsego County teams this spring, J-L has been resourceful in how it trains indoors.
“I really want to work with the outfielders but hitting outside with rackets is all we can do right now," Guild said. “We’ve got to work on our outfielders getting used to judging balls off the bat live.”
Coalton Huff looks to improve on his All-State Second Team honor from last season. He will be a leader as well as someone the squad can look to for big plays in key situations.
J-L will also rely on Brad Kussrow, a player who already has three years of varsity experience. Last year, he was an all-conference player. If he can improve his already stellar batting statistics, he should help the Cardinals win a district title.
Kussrow’s brother, Joel, started as a freshman on varsity last season. He nearly had a .400 batting average. He will also be a key infielder for the Cardinals.
His success on offense should motivate his teammates to perform at the plate as well.
“We have experience, and I know we’re going to hit the ball really well," Guild said. "I’ve got a lot of kids who hit well last year, and they’re hitting well in the gymnasium.”
The team's success will also come down to hard work and good pitching.