Richmond outlasts Escanaba to advance to Division 2 Final; will meet Ida
East Lansing – Runs haven’t exactly been easy to come by for Richmond during its playoff run as the Blue Devils had been held to two runs or less in three of its five postseason games entering Thursday’s Division 2 semifinal against Escanaba.
And while Thursday wasn’t necessarily an offensive eruption for the Blue Devils, they will certainly take it.
A four-run third inning proved to be all of the offense Richmond would need as sophomore Erin Shuboy would carry a no-hitter into the fifth inning to lead the Blue Devils to a 4-2 win over Escanaba their second straight Division 2 state final.
In the Division 2 Final, Richmond (33-4) will face Ida, who defeated Stevensville Lakeshore in the second D-2 semifinal of the day on Thursday.
Richmond head coach Howard Stuart said that with the difficult postseason run his team has been through, which includes three extra-inning games where Richmond was held in check offensively, he was pleased with his team’s third inning effort at the plate.
“We had three straight (extra inning) games and we played eight innings, nine innings and eight innings where we win by one run for the last month and a half or two,” he said. “So a two run game is unbelievable for us, it’s huge and four runs in one inning hasn’t happened for us since the championship game of districts.”
With the game scoreless heading into the bottom of the third inning, an RBI Fielder’s choice from Amy Thueme gave Richmond a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Devils would then load the bases for junior Evelyn Swantek, who delivered a bases clearing double to left-center to push the Richmond lead to 4-0 after three innings.
Junior Carley Barjaktarovich, who went 2-for-3 on the day with a run score and a stolen base to help pace Richmond, said that getting the early lead allowed her team to settle in for the remainder of the game.
“It was very nice to see us get that cushion early on,” she said. “They (Escanaba) fought back great and it was a great game, but just to have that feeling in the field where we have a couple of runs, we can sit back and relax and everyone can get rid of their jitters out there.”
Those four runs would be more than enough run support for Shuboy who was dominant through the first four innings of Thursday’s game before running into trouble for the first time in the top half of the fifth inning.
“She was confident, I thought she was going to throw another no-hitter,” Stuart said. “Then she started getting sweaty. But she did really well, she walked a couple of hitters, gave up a couple of runs but we were ok.”
In the fifth inning, Escanaba (33-5) would finally get on the board thanks to an RBI fielder’s choice by Emily Bruntjens to cut the deficit to 4-1 and shortly after, a Lexi Chaillier RBI single would make it 4-2, before Shuboy would manage to work her way out of trouble with a pop up to end the inning.
Shuboy, who threw a no-hitter in last year’s Division 2 state championship game, allowed just four hits and two runs, while striking out seven in her seven innings of work.
Ida 3, Stevensville Lakeshore 2
East Lansing – Ida earned a 3-2 win over Stevensville Lakeshore to advance to the Division 2 state finals for the first time since advancing back in 2006, when the Bluestreaks competed in Division 3.
Trailing 1-0 entering the fourth inning, Ida (36-7) tied the game up at 1-1 on an RBI single up the middle off the bat of Mallorie Duvall that scored Brooklyn Woelmer.
In the fifth inning, Ida would grab the lead with the help of an RBI triple from Hannah Tuller, who would score on an errant throw to third base, giving Ida a 3-1 advantage heading into the sixth inning.
Earning the win in the circle for the Bluestreaks was Lauren Kreps, who scattered five hits over seven innings of work and allowed just one earned run.
Lakeshore (33-7-1) was led by Olivia Freehling, who finished the game 1-for-3 with an RBI, while Taylor Simon took the loss for the Lancers, allowing seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings, while striking out four.