STANTON - Even if 16-year-old Dax Durocher's first career Twilight League home run was the only offense Stanton could muster Thursday night, it would have been enough for the win when coupled with Mike Richards' complete-game, one-hit shutout.
But, Durocher's long ball got the ball rolling for the rest of the Wildcats, and Stanton improved to 5-0 with a 7-0 home win over Mosquito Inn/Computer Mechanix.
Richards gave up his first and only hit to MI/CM's Will Williams one out into the top of the seventh and final inning.
Stanton’s Dax Durocher is congratulated by teammates and his father Tom (back right) after hitting his first career Twilight League home run Thursday night. Durocher’s solo shot got the hosts on the board en route to a 7-0 win over Mosquito Inn/Computer Mechanix. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
"I was feeling really good. My accuracy was key. I just threw it hard and I was placing it well," said Richards, who tallied nine strikeouts, while walking three and hitting a batter.
Coupled with his last start on June 12 against Pat's Foods, Richards has allowed no runs and just four hits in 14 innings, while striking out 23 batters.
"Mike pitched a hell of a game and we just couldn't get the bats going," said MI/CM manager Rexx Janowiak.
MI/CM 000 000 0 - 0 1 1
Stanton 000 313 X - 7 13 1
WP: Mike Richards, 7 IP 0R, 1H, 3BB, 9K
LP: Robert Brooks, 4 1/3 IP, 4R, 6H, 3BB, 1K
Mosquito Inn/Computer Mechanix: Will Williams 1-3, 1B (only team hit)
Stanton: Daron Durocher 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Richards 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Neither team could get the bats going early, though, in a pitcher's duel for both sides. Stanton got two men on base in each of the first three innings, but couldn't do anything with them.
Finally, the Wildcats, who had hit four total home runs in the first four games of the year, broke through in the fourth inning with a long ball from an unlikely source.
After Brady Olson and Garrett Byrne were retired in short order, Durocher, hitting from the No. 8 spot, drilled a fastball about 320 feet just over the left field fence.
"That's my first home run in Twilight and on these big fields, too," Durocher said. "It felt good. I really got a hold of it."
It was all smiles after Durocher's home run trot, and just two batters later, Dax's uncle and team manager Daron Durocher jacked a two-run homer to right field after Alex Johnson had singled before that.
"I couldn't let him outdo me," joked Daron, whose brother Tom is Dax's father. "His home run got me excited and the ball just hopped off my bat, too."
After Stanton earned a 3-0 lead through four innings, MI/CM looked primed to respond after Richards issued a leadoff walk to Jim Maltese. However, despite surrendering a stolen base and giving up third base to Maltese on a passed ball, Richards struck out two batters and forced MI/CM leadoff hitter Justin Poirier to pop up to catcher Daron Durocher.
After 4 1/3 innings, Maltese relieved Mosquito Inn starter Robert Brooks, who had stifled Stanton's offense with frequent knuckleballs - until the fourth inning. Brooks had walked Erik Nettell, and Nettell scored on Byrne's RBI single off Maltese, making it 4-0.
In the top of the sixth inning, Richards battled through a long at-bat against Steve Lishinski, who finally flew out deep to center field. Stanton first baseman Josh Koskela nearly committed an error but recovered to close out the top of the sixth with an acrobatic backhand flip to Richards.
Stanton then added some insurance runs in the bottom of the inning. Daron Durocher led off with a walk, followed by a Josh Hibbard single and a two-RBI double by Richards. Poirier relieved Maltese and closed out the inning, but not before Stanton added its final run thanks to a Koskela single to right field.
Richards struck out Janowiak but lost the no-hitter to Williams. He then walked Maltese before clinching the complete-game shutout with a strikeout looking and a groundout.
"I'd like to say we played a really good defensive game, but we didn't have that many opportunities," said Daron Durocher, who will likely pitch in a make-up home game at 6:30 p.m. tonight against BlueSky Health. "Mike just pitched that solid of a game, and the majority of the plays were kind of routine. He's a heck of a pitcher and I'm glad I've got him."
Mosquito Inn/Computer Mechanix (1-4) will have a chance at revenge when it hosts Stanton next Tuesday in Toivola.