Portagers split pair with Bobcats

Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate

BRETHREN — One game was a lesson learned, while the other served as proven potential.

Both Brethren and Onekama felt that same way Monday — about opposite contests, of course — as the teams split their West Michigan D League doubleheader.

The Portagers (4-4, 1-3 WMD) took a 6-3 win in the opener before the Bobcats (15-5, 3-1 WMD) bounced back for a 5-3 victory in the nightcap.

“Both of us, I think, are in the process of building, and wanting to compete at a different level,” said Bobcats coach Jason McElrath. “And I think that’s obvious in games like tonight — when you watch that ebb and that flow — the team that figures out how to keep that confidence up is the team that’s going win.”

Each team took its turn Monday, as Onekama used a four-run first inning to pace itself to victory in the opener while Brethren rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to win the nightcap, and salvage a split.

“We talked about it at the end of the (doubleheader); we said, fundamentally, that first game is the way we want to play this season,” said Onekama coach Rob Johnson of his team’s error-free opener. “The second game, we showed some things that we want to make sure we don’t repeat.

“And they all realize that,” he added. “They were nodding their heads when we told them. They all learned from it tonight, so I’m pretty confident we won’t be making some of those mistakes again.”

The Portagers brought the bats out early in the opener, taking a 6-2 lead after the first two frames.

Onekama’s Emily Bergren and Tawny Kott led the way at the plate, each knocking a pair of hits while Jennica Mathieu had a double and Nicki Slater a single.

The Bobcats held the Portagers scoreless the rest of the way, but were unable to get much offense going themselves, scoring just a run in their final at-bat in the bottom of the sixth.

Bergren allowed five hits with five strikeouts in the circle for Onekama while being backed by solid defense.

“That was some great defensive play on our part,” Johnson said. “Really, that was a very well-rounded game. The bats cooled off, but what we got early was enough for us.”

Lexi Lakso took the loss for Brethren, allowing four earned runs on nine hits with five strikeouts while Elana Hickok led the way at the plate, batting 2-for-3 with a double. Danielle Brenner was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

“The theme for us this year has been dying by the errors and living by our bats,” McElrath said. “We had two errors in that game, but I give credit to Onekama. They came out early and hit the ball.

“For both games, it seemed like the winning team hit the ball where the defense wasn’t, and the losing team hit it where they were.”

In the nightcap, the Bobcats took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, before Onekama looked poised for another burst of offense in the second. The Portagers scored three runs in the frame, but potentially could have plated more as they left the bases loaded.

“That was a killer right there,” said Johnson. “We had a few more mistakes, a few more errors in that game. We still hit the ball, but we just didn’t score many runs.”

Brethren scored one run in the third and one in the fifth to knot the score at 3-3.

Quick action by Elizabeth Bergren gets a much needed out.  (Photos by Sherry Revolt)

“We’ve been wanting to have that opportunity to put teams away,” McElrath said of heading into the sixth inning tied. “We want to always be looking for a spark to jump start us a little bit.”

Brethren found it, as the Bobcats scored two runs in the top of the sixth for the lead before holding Onekama scoreless in the sixth for the win.

“The biggest battle we’ve been fighting is confidence,” McElrath said. “So, it was nice to see the girls go out in that sixth inning and not only get some runs for the lead, but hold them for the win on defense.”

Lakso notched the win in the circle, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. She also had a hit and an RBI for the Bobcats while Brenner and Annie MacNeil each knocked a triple. Hailey Guinan had a hit with two RBIs.

For Onekama, Bergren allowed six hits with two strikeouts in the loss while Kott had two hits, including a double, at the plate.

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