Defense bends but doesn’t break as the Islanders tip Winthrop


Stranding its opponent on base and recording timely hits. Those were keys for Gaylord’s Islanders on Friday as they rattled off a 7-3 win over host Winthrop in River Valley League action.

Gaylord managed seven hits enroute to its first win in the circuit. Three of those hits were doubles which fueled rallies for the Islanders.

Winthrop meanwhile cranked out three more hits than Gaylord. But, the Eagles were grounded offensively after leaving eleven baserunners stranded.

“We came up with some big plays both offensively and defensively,” Gaylord manager Mike Walsh said. “It was nice to get the victory even though we didn’t play our best.”

Winthrop reached the scoreboard first with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. A trio of hits, including a double by Ben Melius, fueled the early rally by the Eagles.

Gaylord cut Winthrop’s lead to 2-1 in the third inning. Speedy Collin Grams singled and eventually circled the bases after a pair of errors on the Eagles.

The Islanders then rallied for four runs in the fourth inning. Gaylord’s first four batters of the frame reached safely and scored.

A leadoff walk issued to Darin Hendley started the fourth inning flurry for the Islanders. Josh Gasow followed with a single before Paul Mages and Tim Kuphal delivered consecutive doubles. Kuphal would eventually score on a wild pitch giving the Islanders a 5-2 advantage.

Three straight singles enabled Winthrop to score in the bottom of the fourth inning but it would prove to be the final run of the game for the home team.

Another extra-base hit helped produce Gaylord’s final two runs in the eighth inning. After Brad Walsh was hit by a pitch, Hendley laced a double. Both runners would eventually score to put the Islanders on top 7-3.

Winthrop’s best scoring chance down the stretch came in the bottom of the eighth. But, a leadoff single and a walk were spoiled when relief pitcher Kuphal recorded a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.

Kuphal pitched three innings of shutout ball to seal the victory for Gaylord. The righthander allowed two hits, struckout five and walked two.

Hendley started on the mound for Gaylord. He scattered eight hits and struckout four over six innings of work.

Kuphal and Hendley were also the leading offensive players for the Islanders. They combined for four hits and four RBI’s.

Mages added a double and three RBI’s for the winners while Grams and Gasow each charted a hit and scored a run.

Gaylord and Winthrop will clash again on Thursday, June 5th at Walsh Field in Gaylord. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m..

The Islanders, 2-2 overall and 1-2 in River Valley action, will play at St. Peter on Friday (7:30), then host St. Peter on Sunday (6:00). Gaylord will play host to Gibbon on Tuesday, June 10th (7:30).