Onekama drops opener to Frankfort

 by Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate
 April 12, 2012

ONEKAMA — For its season- opening doubleheader, Onekama couldn’t ask for a better measuring stick than Frankfort.

Despite losing many key players due to graduation last season, the four-time defending district champion Panthers still hold a high standard on the diamond.

The young Portagers jumped to an early 4-0 lead in Thursday’s opener, but Frankfort’s reputation kicked in during the fourth. The 10-run frame sparked a 15-8 win over Onekama before the Panthers swept the series with a 6-1 nightcap victory that was called after four innings due to darkness.

“(Mike) Zimmerman’s one of the best coaches around, and I know they graduated a lot, but they’re reloading,” Portagers coach John Neph said of Frankfort. “They’re always a good team.”

Despite a solid start, Onekama (0-2) was bit by long innings it couldn’t seem to get out of.

“It was the classic ‘make a mistake and they capitalize’ sort of the thing happening for us tonight,” Neph said. “Make no mistake about it, Frankfort hit the ball. But when we had chances to get out of the inning, we didn’t always capitalize.”

The Portagers’ Joe Eno sparked the team at the plate batting 2-for-2 including a triple in the opener with an RBI and four runs scored. Stephen Verrett and Morgan Ledford each had two hits with an RBI.

Onekama scored a run apiece in the first two innings and plated a pair in the bottom of the third.

“You can use that as a confidence builder,” Neph said of the solid start. “I mean, we can look at that and realize that we played well for a while. We just have to sustain that and do less of the other things.”

The Portagers’ starting pitcher Nolan Miller threw 3 1/3 innings before being relieved by Dallas Hearit during Frankfort’s big fourth inning. Miller finished the night with five strikeouts while allowing three earned runs on four hits.

Onekama’s Stephen Verrett delivers a pitch during the second game of a doubleheader against Frankfort on Thursday. (Photos by Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

After the 10-run fourth, the Panthers scored four in the fifth and one in the sixth, while Onekama managed a one-run fourth and a three-run fifth.

The marathon opener didn’t allow for much sunlight in the nightcap as the teams squeezed in just four frames. Frankfort scored a run in the first and five in the top of the third for a six-run lead. Eno doubled in a run for Onekama in the bottom of the third, but the game was called after a scoreless fourth both sides.

On the mound, Verrett allowed one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts.

“We talked after the game and said this is just the beginning,” Neph said. “From when we scrimmaged to today, we got better. Now the next challenge is from here to the next game.

“And we had some bright spots,” he added. “Eno’s catching and hitting was a very good tonight. And then we had some younger guys step up and make some nice plays.

“But sometimes our young guys made some young-guy plays. The best thing about this team, though, is we know where we’re at and we’re going to keep learning from those things.”

   
     

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