Mountaineers baseball gets first win
Bolo no-hits Marquette JV for IM’s first win since ‘43
IRON MOUNTAIN — CJ Bolo threw a no-hitter against Marquette to help Iron Mountain win its first game in 74 years.
In the Mountaineers’ first baseball season since 1943, Bolo shut down the Redmen’s JV team en route to a 5-1 win on Tuesday at Ranger Field.
Iron Mountain and Marquette tied the first game 1-1.
“I can’t be more excited for the community, school, kids,” Iron Mountain coach Steve Forstrom said. “This is an exciting feeling right now. It was great.
“We haven’t been able to practice — rain and wind and snow,” Forstrom said. “So you’re against all odds. I couldn’t be any prouder than I am of Iron Mountain in general.”
Bolo threw a steady diet of fastballs and curveballs, striking out 10 and walking just two batters.
“Not that I’m not proud of everyone, but I’m especially proud of CJ Bolo,” Forstrom said. “He showed a lot of heart. Look at the game Caleb Johnson threw. He threw a gem in the first game, we just didn’t hit the ball.”
The Mountaineers’ offense supported Bolo in the second game with a four-run third inning and adding a run in the fourth. In the first game, Iron Mountain managed just three hits while striking out 14 times. The Mountaineers struck out at least twice every inning.
Bolo struck out six in a row in the third and fourth innings, then the Redmen grounded out twice before Bolo ended the game with a strikeout.
“My fastball wasn’t going where I wanted, so I threw the curveball,” Bolo said. “I was feeling that, so I just kept throwing that.”
Forstrom said the six consecutive strikeouts is a rare accomplishment.
“No matter who you’re throwing, that’s pretty tough to do,” Forstrom said. “He kept his composure.”
Iron Mountain’s defense also came up big to track down tough hits to support Bolo’s no-hitter. Mountaineers second baseman Jacob Maxxon made an out with a throw while laying on his back. Maxxon moved towards first as first baseman Sam Burgess fielded a grounder. The ball kicked off Burgess and Maxxon lost his balance changing direction to grab it. The throw beat the Marquette runner on a bang-bang play to end the third inning.
Marquette’s lone run came in the sixth when the runner scored on a groundout to first base.
Bolo settled in in the second inning when he threw a curveball that made a batter’s knees buckle.
“It made me more confident in my curveballs and pitches,” Bolo said. “It just felt good after that.”
Bolo helped his own cause in the third when his two-out single to centerfield started the four-run rally. Jacob Maxxon and Zach Spera followed with a walk. Bolo scored on a Sam Burgess hit a sharp grounder to third and a throwing error allowed two to score. The other two runs came on a throwing error off a dropped third strike.
“It was honestly pretty great. I had a smile throughout the game,” Bolo said. “It’s mostly a team thing because our team pitched in and got some runs. It was more of a team thing than just pitching.”
Johnson surrendered five hits, struck out seven and walked two in the first game. Gavin Goulette and Burgess had two hits on the day. Bolo had two hits in the first game, including a double.
Forstrom said the team has had a strong base of support from the community and school.
“All in all it was a win. Look at the people that were here — there had to be 50, 60 people here in not what you would call baseball weather,” Forstrom said. “I can’t get over the support of the people around here. (Assistant coach) Paul Julian worked all day on this field to get this field ready, pretty much all by his lonesome. That shows a lot of passion.
“The kids are building off the support of the community and the school. There are other coaches here, superintendent’s here, it’s nice, it really is,” Forstrom said. “It’s nice to see baseball shown a little spark back in the local area. If you’re a player and you look to the crowd, that means a lot. That means a lot as a manager. I like to see a lot of people coming to watch us play. We get a little bit better every game.”
The Mountaineers have endured different losses, including blowouts and heartbreaks in which they lost a lead in the final inning. All the while, Forstrom said, the team has improved. Now, they’re buying into the results.
“For the most part we had a few mental errors but the defense was better than normal. I won’t say good yet, but better than normal,” Forstrom said. “They’re going to get a barrage of ground balls (Wednesday). I’m excited. I hope they’re half as excited as I am, because for me, for these kids, this is great. This is the start of something big here. Saturday’s another step.
“I think they’re starting to believe in themselves a little bit. I can only preach it so much without them taking hold of it themselves,” Forstrom added. “Bolo is a prime example. And Caleb threw a great game. We all came to play baseball today. For us to succeed, that’s what we need.”
Iron Mountain plays at Gladstone on Saturday.