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Copper Kings, Patriots earn split on baseball diamond Wednesday | News, Sports, Jobs

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May 26, 2023

Westwood’s Isak Ruspakka takes a lead off first base while Calumet’s Lars Peterson readies for a pitch during a doubleheader Wednesday at Paul Lehto Field in Calumet. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET — Like a fine wine, baseball in the Copper Country seems to get better with age. A case in point was the doubleheader on Wednesday between the Calumet Copper Kings and the visiting Westwood Patriots. While the Copper Kings (6-11) took game one 8-3, the Patriots (4-9-1) earned an extra-innings win in the second game.

In the nightcap, the Patriots led, 8-7, just two outs away from a win in the bottom of the sixth. However, Calumet’s Hans Kiilunen kept his squad alive with a solo blast over the left field fence at Paul Lehto Field to tie the game at eight.

While the home run provided some immediate momentum, and new life for the Copper Kings, it was short-lived. The Patriots strung together a series of hits led by Sam Dyer and Trent Wash, which led to a top-of-the-seventh, two-run rally, which was not countered in the bottom by the Calumet.

“I was really proud of the boys and their perseverance in this one,” said the first-year coach of the Patriots, Jason Salmi. “The boys stuck with it and pulled off a win. It was the better of our two games today.”

To get to the seventh, the Copper Kings scored twice in the first and three times in the second. Meanwhile the Patriots scored four times in both the second and third innings.

Westwood was led in those two innings by Bryce Markham, Isak Ruspakka and Luke Delongchamp who all scored twice – once in each frame. Wes Jenson went the distance and earned the win thanks to a lot of clean fielding by the boys behind him.

The opening game on Wednesday was a similarly well-played one. Despite an 8-3 loss, the Patriots were equally competitive in this one until the end.

The Copper Kings set the tone with a two run in the first and three in the second. In the first, second baseman Cam Anderson and centerfielder Alex Tarnowski both walked and scored. Anderson scored in the second as did Ben Frantti and Liam Pomproy.

The Patriots countered with two in the first and one run in the third to make it a 5-3 Calumet lead.

However, the Copper Kings widened the gap with three more runs in the fourth to put the game out of reach for the Patriots. In that frame, Tarnowski started things off with a double. Frantti then found a hole through the left side of the infield as did Levi Kilpela. All three of these batters scored to seal an 8-5 win.

“Our first game was better played,” said Calumet coach David Yeo. ” We had good pitching by Brayden Cima and our bats came alive. As well, we made the routine plays like we should.”

Up next

These two teams will meet again on Tuesday, May 30, at Paul Lehto Field for a do-or-die game. The winner of Tuesday’s seven-inning match up will go on to District 65 play on Saturday, June 3, in Negaunee.

“We will be practicing hard these next couple of day,” added Yeo, “and hopefully be ready for next Tuesday.”

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