STANTON - Pressed into rare service on the mound, Stanton's Erik Nettell kept it simple and waited for his Wildcat teammates to catch up with the bats.
They did, making him more than just one of the Twilight League's foremost sluggers but a winning pitcher.
Stanton overturned a 6-0 deficit to beat BlueSky Health 9-7 in an entertaining contest Thursday.
Stanton’s Dax Durocher, right, accepts high-fives from his teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning of Thursday’s Twilight League game against BlueSky Health at Stanton Ballfield. The?Wildcats posted a come-from-behind 9-7 win. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"I felt I kept them a little off-balance, for the most part. Big thing was keeping the ball in the park," Nettell said.
In fact, it was Stanton's ability to put it out of the park that got it back into the game. After allowing six runs in the top of the third, Dax Durocher's liner over the left-field fence capped a four-run bottom of the inning to make it a ballgame again, while a moonshot from Paul Kuoppala tied it up in the fifth.
Nettell had thrown a third of an inning this season and very little before that due to arm issues. After Stanton starter and manager Daron Durocher allowed six runs on six hits in the third, he called for the burly third baseman. Nettell went 4 1/3 innings, relying mostly on his fastball, with a few knucklers thrown in for variety.
BlueSky 006 010 0 - 7 11 2
Stanton 004 140 X - 9 9 1
WP - Erik Nettell, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
LP - Scott Storm, 4+ IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
Stanton - Paul Kuoppala, 1-2, SF, HR, 2 RBIs; Max Smith 2-2, SB, 2 RBIs
BSH - Pete Moyryla 2-4, RBI; Keith Halonen 2-3
He allowed just one unearned run on a fifth-inning RBI groundout, but had to work out of trouble in the seventh. Dan Juopperi doubled with one out, but was picked off the bases trying to advance on a Pete Heinonen grounder to short. After a long battle with Scott Pietila, Nettell reached back for the heat one more time for a game-ending strikeout, his only one of the game.
"I gave it the rest I had. That would have been my last hitter. I was out of gas," he said.
BlueSky starter Scott Storm had a two-RBI double in his own cause in the third-inning outburst, but couldn't escape from his second bases-loaded no-out jam in three innings in the bottom half. Kuoppala drove in Brady Olson with a sacrifice fly before Dax Durocher hit one out on a line that rejuvenated the home dugout.
"I didn't think it was going over. Thought it was going to the fence," Durocher said.
Nettell's used to big homers, but normally off his bat. After lacing a leadoff single to right, Nettell got a good look at Kuoppala's bomb deep into the woods over the left-field fence.
Storm walked the next two batters, leading to Jason Koski taking over on the mound, but after a sacrifice bunt, Max Smith singled in two runs to give Stanton the lead for the rest of the way.
Smith and Nettell had two hits apiece for the winners, while Pete Moyryla and Keith Halonen had pairs of singles for BlueSky.
The squads will be on opposite sides of the four-team Jack Pastore Memorial Tournament Saturday at Hancock Driving Park. BlueSky plays host Pat's Foods at 1:30 p.m., with Stanton facing Mosquito Inn-Toivola at 3:30 and the title game at 6:30.