CHEBOYGAN – It was a battle of area baseball heavyweights in Cheboygan on Monday.
In the end, both the Cheboygan Chiefs and Inland Lakes Bulldogs went home pleased following an intriguing non-conference doubleheader.
Behind a stellar pitching and hitting performance from senior Daniel Wilcome, the Chiefs steamrolled the Bulldogs in a 10-0 victory in game one. But, the Bulldogs responded with a huge haymaker in the nightcap, earning a 10-6 win to secure a split.
“They were two really good baseball games,” said Cheboygan coach Kevin Baller. “I thought defensively we made some mistakes in the second game, overthrowing a cut-off man, had a few errors, and I’ll tell you what, (Inland Lakes) capitalized on our errors and mistakes that we made, and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
In the opener, the Chiefs (26-3-1) received a grand slam from Wilcome, who finished with two hits. On the mound, Wilcome was equally as impressive, striking out 11 Bulldogs, allowing two hits and walking one in a five-inning complete game shutout win.
“I’m very happy for Danny, Danny does a very nice job,” Baller said. “He had the grand slam and he pitched well with 11 strikeouts. He threw a very good ballgame.”
Tallying two hits for the Straits Area Conference champion Chiefs was Jacob Jankoviak, while Dylan Balazovic (RBI), Sean Postula (RBI), Cole Hudson, Tyler Balazovic and Henry Stempky each recorded a hit.
As they’ve done all season, the Bulldogs – who most recently captured their first Ski Valley Conference title in 20 years – responded with their backs were against the wall, taking control of the second contest with an eight-run fifth inning that saw them build a huge lead. Notably, all eight runs came with two outs. While the Chiefs made a late comeback attempt, it wasn’t enough to deny the Bulldogs of an impressive triumph.
“That eight-run inning really helped. (Payton) Teuthorn came up with some big knocks. Proud of our guys,” said Inland Lakes coach Josh Vieau. “That’s the one thing we’ve been preaching to them, is run good bases, and championship teams run very good bases, and also tell them not to quit. You can’t quit. You gotta fight until the last out. They do a hell of a job. It’s not a big deal if it’s two outs, we just go up there, keep swinging away, and our bats are starting to come alive.”
Teuthorn's three hits and two RBI sparked the Bulldogs in the win, while Kaden Hansel tallied two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Aidan Fenstermaker (RBI, two runs), Connor Wallace (RBI, run), Logan O’Boyle (two runs) and Austin Brege each registered a hit.
Wallace was the winning pitcher for Inland Lakes, striking out six, allowing seven hits and walking three in five innings of work. Brege pitched the final inning, allowing a hit and walking a batter.
Tyler Balazovic took the loss on the mound for Cheboygan, striking out seven, allowing six hits and walking one in 3 2/3 innings pitched. In 2 1/3 innings of relief, Kaleb Blaskowski struck out three and allowed four hits.
For Cheboygan’s offense, Wilcome went 3-for-3 with five RBI in game two, while Matt Bur doubled. Tyler Balazovic, Postula, Jankoviak, Blaskowski and Stempky each added a hit.
In the opener, Hansel took the pitching loss for Inland Lakes, striking out one, allowing four hits and walking one in two innings. Jackson Boctorff pitched two innings in relief, striking out two, allowing four hits and walking two.
Teuthorn added the lone hit in game one the Bulldogs, who recently claimed the outright Ski Valley crown after Johannesburg-Lewiston suffered its third conference loss in a defeat at Onaway last week.
For Vieau and his team, picking up a win over a talented Cheboygan squad meant a little bit more.
“We were excited to play them,” Vieau said. “Kevin’s (Baller) got a good squad, they're well coached, and they always are every year. I gotta tip my hat to Kevin. He’s doing a nice job up there. Our kids were excited to come up there and get a win. That was the plan, to at least get one win. Obviously they’re a bigger school, but it was fun. It was a lot of fun, especially to beat the Balazovic boys. That was fun for some of my guys, because I knew they grew up with those kids. We’ve got our nose down and we’re playing really good baseball right now.
“Getting that win meant a lot to our kids.”
Monday was a competitive battle between the Cheboygan and IL players, who know each other well going back to their younger days.
“A lot of them are friends, they’ve played some ball together before, there’s some friendly banter going in-between the game, but they know each other well,” Baller said. “It’s good competition to go against them.”
Cheboygan continues its gauntlet of tough Northern Michigan opponents when it hosts Rogers City on Thursday. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have a chance to finish unbeaten in the Ski Valley if they can beat Central Lake in a makeup doubleheader on Tuesday, May 31.
JV Chiefs baseball sweeps Inland Lakes, falls to Esky
INDIAN RIVER – The Cheboygan junior varsity baseball team captured 12-8 and 15-7 victories over Inland Lakes in a doubleheader played on Monday.
Luke Munger led the Chiefs with two doubles in the opener, while Brennan Bradley, Blake Blaskowski and Luke Hoskins each doubled. Jacob Seaman, Warren Farver and Evan Blaskowski chipped in with a single apiece.
James Charboneau was Cheboygan’s winning pitcher, striking out six, allowing 11 hits and walking one.
Charboneau’s three singles and Seaman’s double and single lifted the Chiefs in the nightcap. Blake Blaskowski, Bradley and Farver each doubled for the Chiefs, who also received a single from Hoskins.
Blake Blaskowski earned the win on the mound, striking out four, allowing six hits and walking four in three innings.
In a recent doubleheader against Escanaba, Cheboygan suffered 4-0 and 3-0 defeats.
Blake Blaskowski, Evan Brantley and Bradley each singled for the Chiefs in game one.
Brantley, who took the loss on the mound, struck out four, allowed three hits and walked two in six innings.
In game two, Blaskowski doubled to lead Cheboygan. Seaman and Brantley both singled.
Charboneau was the losing pitcher, striking out four, allowing three hits and walking one in three innings of work. Brantley tossed two innings in relief, striking out two, allowing two hits and walking one.
This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: Cheboygan baseball splits with Inland Lakes, softball sweeps Bulldogs