ISHPEMING - The Portage Lake Little League Major (age 11-12) All-Stars came to the end of the line Sunday at the Michigan state tournament, done in by a 12-1 Sunday loss to Ira Township and a three-team tiebreaker for the last spot in the quarterfinals.
PL kept its hopes alive by beating Midland Northeast 3-2 Saturday afternoon, but watched as Midland advanced despite an 0-2 start when a three-team tiebreaker with Edwardsburg was decided on runs allowed.
"From the district through the state tournament, the kids battled every game. We played 10 baseball games in 14 nights. They're 11 or 12, and you can't play spotless for all those games in a row," PL manager John Bostwick said. "They competed on the state level. We're probably one hit away from beating Edwardsburg (in an extra-inning game Friday) and advancing."
Portage Lake ended up allowing 17 runs, while Midland gave up 13 and Edwardsburg 20. If PL had held Ira, which won all three of its games, to seven runs or less, it would have advanced.
Sunday, Portage Lake tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the first when Sam Keskimaki's RBI single drove in Kevin Bostwick, but a bad day defensively caught up with them. Ira pulled away with a pair of runs in the second inning and three in the third before finishing off the game with a six-run fifth.
Anderson Strunk had a big day, going 3-for-4 with two extra-base hits and four RBIs.
Coach Bostwick estimated Ira's first four runs were unearned.
"All of a sudden, you're down 3-1, 4-1, 5-1, and the spirits break a little bit," he said.
Saturday, Kevin Bostwick pitched a one-hit shutout into sixth inning as PL hung on for the victory.
PL scored all its runs in the first two innings, with Kevin Bostwick recording what would be the game-winning RBI on a single up the box for a 3-0 lead in the second.
Midland fired up a rally in the sixth, scoring one runner on a passed ball and another on an RBI groundout, but couldn't get the tying run past second base.?Of the three U.P. teams in the tournament, only Sault Ste. Marie advanced into the eight-team knockout round. Sault went 2-1 after a 3-2 win over Ypsilanti Sunday.?Iron Mountain, like Portage Lake, went 1-2 and was eliminated after a 7-0 loss to Traverse City East.