SAULT STE. MARIE - With the U.P. American Legion zone baseball tournament less than two weeks away, the Escanaba Cubs were looking for any kind of momentum they could pick up at the Lynn Auto Parts Invitational.
The Cubs finished 2-3 over the weekend, bowing out with a 10-1 loss against the host Eastern U.P. Travelers in a tourney semifinal game Sunday at James Field.
On Saturday, the Cubs beat Alpena 14-0 and lost 4-2 against Petoskey. On Friday, the Cubs beat Sudbury 7-3 and lost 8-2 against the EUP Travelers.
"We had an opportunity to come to this tournament and play five games over the weekend, so that was a good thing," Cubs manager Tom Ohman said. "We didn't field well at times. Today, we even booted a pop up in the infield, and everything went downhill from there.
"We're just about done with our schedule now except for a couple games against our local men's team, so were looking for some momentum like everybody else," Ohman said. "We don't have a deep pitching staff, but our hitting is getting better. If we can score some runs and play defense, we're fine. I guess that's baseball."
In Sunday's semifinal, the Travelers erupted for six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break up a 1-1 tie. The EUP scored three more in the sixth to win by the tourney's "8-run lead after five" rule.
Ben Kleiman, Bailey Lamb, Tyler Skufka and Sean Bissel had hits for the Cubs (7-14).
Kleiman, David Falish and Brandon Punzel pitched for the Cubs. Kleiman started and lasted 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits, while striking out three. Falish was charged with three runs on three hits in 1-3 inning, while Punzel gave up three runs on two hits over 2-3 inning.
Kolbe Peller hit three doubles and drove in four runs to lead the EUPs 10-hit effort. Michael James had two hits and Andy Krupa added a double.
EUP pitcher Andy Krupa limited the Cubs to just four hits, and he struck out five over six innings.
The Soo, Ont. Black Sox beat Petoskey 6-3 in the other semifinal. The EUP Travelers finished 5-0 at the 7-team tourney, beating the Black Sox 4-3 in the championship game.
The EUP (18-8) has won seven straight games and 14 of their last 15 overall going back to June 27.
"Everything for us goes back to the second game of a doubleheader against Petoskey a couple weeks ago," EUP coach Billy Mitchell said. "We were down 3-1 but came back to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh and won 4-3. Ever since then, we can do no wrong. Every hit is falling in, and we're getting good pitching and making defensive plays. This is the best sustained run of games I've been a part of as a coach."