Marinette Legion’s Austin Belonga dives in vain for a foul ball during Friday’s home game against De Pere Legion. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Marinette Legion’s Austin Belonga dives in vain for a foul ball during Friday’s home game against De Pere Legion. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
MARINETTE - By the time the Marinette Legion baseball team settled into Friday's game, De Pere Legion was well on its way to winning it.

De Pere went on to win 8-4 at Pedersen Ball Park in Marinette's season opener.

Outfield indecision, a missed cutoff man and a booted grounder gave the Panthers an unearned run in the first inning, and Carl Herlache's bad-hop single put De Pere up 2-0 in the second. There was nothing cheap about Paul Koltz's opposite-field solo home run which put De Pere ahead 3-0 in the third inning.

"We got some pitches up," Marinette coach Brian Lesandrini said. "Defense was a little rusty. It will take a little bit to get back in the swing of things. That was pretty evident how rusty we were."

Scott Eldredge, Austin Belonga and Luke Kelly are a year into college, and weren't in midseason form. The high school players had 10 days off since their last game.

"A little disappointing for your first game," Lesandrini said. "We've got to get the jitters out and just play baseball."

Marinette got two runs back in the third on Derek Klegin's double deep to left, Kelly's RBI single to left, Belonga's opposite-field single and a fielder's choice play. There would have been more runs if not for center fielder Paul Koltz's spectacular diving catch to rob Eldredge of extra bases.

De Pere third baseman Trey Ryan robbed Austin Wright with a leaping backhanded catch of a line drive in the second. Right fielder Brad Pierre made a shoestring catch of Ty Bebo's sinking liner in the fourth.

The Panthers did make two errors but made more plays than Post 39.

"All in all first game, combining two schools, playing together, I can't really complain about much," De Pere coach Kevin Norman said.

Ryan's RBI single pushed the lead to 4-2 in the fourth, but Marinette tied the game in its half of the inning with a two-out rally. Cody Tessmer and Klegin were hit by pitches and Eldredge lined an RBI single to center. Klegin came all the way around from first on a throwing error.

De Pere chased Kelly from the mound in the fifth. Koltz drew a one-out walk, Logan Devroy doubled, Pierre lined an RBI single to left and John McCormick singled in two more runs. The fourth run of the inning scored on a dropped third strike.

Lesandrini said good teams such as De Pere capitalize on mistakes.

"They certainly took advantage of their baserunners, and we left some on," he said.
McCormick and Herlache, the 8 and 9 hitters for De Pere, were a combined 5 for 7 at the plate.

"I was very, very happy with the way we hit the ball," Norman said. "Even our outs, we hit it hard. Marinette's a good team. It makes me more happy. We didn't beat a weak team."

Klegin went 3 for 3 for Marinette. The infield was sound, and Tessmer made three good plays in left, including a long peg to gun down Devroy trying to score from second on a base hit.

Wright pitched 22⁄3 scoreless innings in relief, with two strikeouts, one walk and one hit.

WP - Garrett Willems 7 IP, 4R, 3ER, 9H, 2W, 6K
LP - Luke Kelly 41⁄3 IP, 8R, 6ER, 10H, 2W, 3K

Leading hitters (Marinette): Derek Klegin 3x3, 2B; Kelly 1x3, RBI; Aaron Benson & Jake McMahon 1x3; (De Pere): John McCormick 3x3, 2 RBIs; Cal Herlache 2x4, RBI; Paul Koltz 1x3, HR; Logan Devroy 1x1, 2B

De Pere 111 140 0 - 8
Marinette 002 200 0 - 4