AKRON, Ohio - The Escanaba Junior (age 13-14) girls saw both ends of the competive spectrum during their first two games of the Little League Central Regional, but found a way to win them both.
Facing a doubleheader Saturday, the Esky All-Stars swept, beating Melrose Park, Ill. 2-1 in 11-innings before coasting past Grandview (Des Moines, Iowa) 14-4 in a mercy-rule shortened five inning game.
In a tense opening game, Mackenzie Leisner singled to start the 11th inning and scored from first base when Callie Heller laid down a perfect bunt and the ball was thrown away.
Escanaba, which stranded 14 base-runners also scored in the fourth inning when Becca Piron bunted to first and Michelle LaFave singled to move Piron to third. Emily LaFave attempted a bunt but couldn't get it down and Piron got caught in a pickle between third and home, but slid through the catcher's legs to score.
Melrose Park tied it at 1-1 in the fifth inning when Ann Elliott ripped a lead-off double and scored after two Escanaba passed balls.
Katie Ross was the winning pitcher, coming on in relief of Sam Connor, who pitched four shutout innings.
Escanaba made short work of Grandview, scoring eight runs in the bottom of the first on four hits. Grandview had seven errors in the big inning.
The Iowa state champs scored all three of their runs on five hits in the top of the third to make the score 9-3.
"We're playing very well. Our pitching style and our defense is tough. The bats were a little cold against Melrose Park, but they came alive pretty quick against Iowa," said Esky manager Jamie Segorski.
Escanaba was slated to play defending regional champion London South, Ky at 8 p.m. Sunday but the game was rained out. That game was to be made up at 9 a.m. today. The Kentucky state champs beat Grandview 1-0 on Saturday.