Esky rallies past Norway, moves on
KINGSFORD — A three-run outburst in the third was enough for Iron Mountain to beat rival Kingsford 4-2 in a Little League Major district game on Tuesday.
Iron Mountain advances to the district championship game at 6 p.m. CDT Thursday. Kingsford plays Escanaba at 5 p.m. today in the loser’s bracket for a chance to advance to the district final. A second district championship game, if needed, would be held at 6 p.m. Friday.
Escanaba beat Norway 7-5 in the first game.
Iron Mountain’s Aiden Ellis hit a two RBI-double in the third to tie the game. The Mountaineers took the lead on an error and added a run in the fifth on a passed ball.
“A lot of good defense. When you’re playing teams this good, that’s what it boils down to,” Iron Mountain coach Jeff Powell said. “Balls are gonna get hit. You gotta make plays in the field. We did. We had a couple errors but they battled back and we made a lot of really great plays.”
Kingsford put the pressure on early with a two-out two-run home run by Andres Finley in the first inning.
Iron Mountain pitcher Ian Marttila threw 86 pitches across six innings and kept Kingsford’s bats quiet after the first inning. He gave up the two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
“What a fantastic job. Went the distance. First time he’s done that all year,” Powell said. “They got up two in the first inning and he hung in there. Catcher did a good job behind the plate, giving him a target. Ian stayed focused. He’s a heck of a 12-year-old pitcher. He threw heat tonight and that’s gotta be good for his confidence.”
Marttila also had two hits for Iron Mountain.
Finley singled in the third for Kingsford. Joey Weber had two hits. Jack Kriegl had a single.
“Marttila pitched unbelievable, which we knew he was going to,” Kingsford head coach Dan Brown said. “He’s their ace and he showed it today. We didn’t have it today. Kids aren’t hitting the ball with three hits again today. We’ve hit him before. He just did a good job today. He was mixing it up and changing speeds. He did a good job today.”
In the first matchup, Escanaba scored three runs each in the fifth and sixth innings to take the lead and hold off Norway in the bottom of the inning for the win.
“It was just a great inning, great time. They stuck around,” Escanaba head coach Jeremy Peacock said. “Remember I told you yesterday about those bats? There they were. Two innings in a row again. We hit in the fifth inning, held our runners and didn’t try to force things because we believed the top of our lineup would come back and give us a couple to go ahead – worked out. Norway played a great game. We were just able to get it done.”
Norway led by as much as 4-1 in the third and fourth innings before Escanaba struck back to tie in the top of the fifth on Owen Fields’ two-run. Norway took the lead in the bottom half when Escanaba tried turning a double play and the throw to first skipped to the fence, allowing a run to score.
But then Escanaba dug deep and rallied with three straight hits to load the bases after a leadoff flyout. A soft grounder in the infield and a throw off the catcher’s glove allowed two Escanaba runs to score for the lead. Esky added an insurance run when a throw to first base was dropped.
“In the sixth inning, we pretty much put ourselves in a situation where we had to get six outs,” Norway head coach Tony Adams said. “Anytime you give a team six outs, they’re going to score runs. I don’t think they hit anything terribly hard, we made a few mistakes there. We made it harder for ourselves.
“Anytime at this age when kids have to make on-the-spot decisions, there’s gonna be some doubt sometimes. We know that. That’s where that came from. A lot of these kids, we have all year, the others join us at the end. It was fun being around them. They’re a good group of kids. They need to get a little bit more confidence in themselves. We played it a certain way. We’ve gotta live with it.”
Graham Johnson, Cannon Arnt, Nolan Bink and Lennox Peacock had hits for Escanaba in the sixth inning. All but Peacock scored. Arnt and Bink had two hits.
Norway was led with two hits from Landon Amundson including an RBI double in the third inning of a four-run frame. Evan Moyer, Bryce Adams, Cameron Varda and Alex Pipkorn also had hits.