L'ANSE - More than raw talent and results, Little League baseball coaches are looking for the right attitude in their team, a demonstration that the game should be played the right way.
And with a two run fifth inning to help the Portage Lake Minor All-Stars (9-10 years old) to a 6-5 win over Keweenaw All-Stars Thursday in the first round of the District 11 Tournament, the PLL coaches were treated to just that.
With the game tied up at four all, Portage Lake pitcher and shortstop Colton Salani led off the fifth frame with a single. Peter Anderson followed with a textbook bunt single down the first base line that was bobbled on the field.
Portage Lake’s Colton Salani slides hard into third base to beat the tag of a diving Carter Crouch of Keweenaw in a District 11 Tournament game in L’Anse Thursday. Portage Lake went on to win 6-5. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
Salani took advantage of the miscue and reached third base just before the ball arrived - and, as Salani was going to third, Anderson headed for second. The moment Keweenaw threw over to second base and the ball was fumbled, Salani took off for home to score the go-ahead run.
To recap: one clean single and one bunt came out to six total bases.
Anderson would come around to score later in the frame and Ashton Janke (3 2/3 IP, 3 R, 5 Ks 2 BBs) closed out the top of the sixth for the win with a run allowed.
"We are just trying to put some pressure on the defense and get a couple of breaks and the kids did a great job executing," coach Don Hill, father of Davin, said. "It was great heads-up base running."
Keweenaw's Landon Johnson led the KLL All-Stars with three hits - including a booming triple - an RBI and a run scored. Sammy Erkkilla blasted an inside-the-park home run and Taylor Gardner and Scott Loukus also recorded hits for Keweenaw. The KLL All-Stars scored two runs in the second and then tallied one more in the third, fifth and sixth, but it wasn't enough to make up for the early two-run lead Portage Lake built in the first.
P.J. Donnelly led Portage Lake with two hits, an RBI and run scored, while Davin Hill, Janke, Isaiah Little, Salani and Anderson all singled.
Portage Lake advances in the winner's bracket to face Ishpeming tonight at 6:30. Keweenaw awaits an elimination game Sunday at noon against an opponent to be determined.
"Those are kids that know each other well, the teams know each other well and it really showed with a close, close game," Don Hill said.
"Keweenaw is a great team and I expect they aren't quite done in this (double-elimination) tournament."