By BURT ANGELI
The Daily News, Iron Mtn.
NORWAY - Kingsford worked out of tough situations Saturday to down Portage Lake and advance to the Little League Senior (age 15-16) baseball state tournament.
Kingsford snapped a 3-3 tie in the fourth inning to prevail 9-7 in the first sectional test at Marion Park. Portage Lake pitcher Christian Cortright took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the second game before Kingsford responded to win 11-6 in eight innings.
"I was proud of the way they fought back," Kingsford manager Mark Allen said. "The team really showed some poise."
In the opener, Kingsford plated two runs in the fifth inning and four in the sixth to turn back its Houghton-area opponent. Joe Linn and Brett Swanson doubled for Kingsford while Portage Lake's Brad Juntunen also notched a two-bagger.
Cortright baffled Kingsford for five innings of the second game. Portage Lake built a 6-0 lead and nearly expanded that spread if not for a diving catch by left fielder Kyle Henes in the fourth.
In Kingsford's six-run sixth inning, John Edwardson's drag bunt single ended Cortwright's no-hit bid. Jaxson Ferree's two-run single and six walks knotted the score at 6-6.
"The pitcher gave them a few walks and it took off from there," Allen said. "We had a few hits in there, too."
Portage Lake threatened to break the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth when Juntunen singled and reached third base with two outs. Juntunen was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate in the second game.
Linn's two-run single highlighted a five-run Kingsford eighth. Brady Hicks, Henes and Edwardson (another bunt single) also contributed hits.
Portage Lake's Jonathan Bostwick added two singles.
While Portage Lake used three pitchers (they all toiled in the sixth), Kingsford started with Mike Holmberg and turned to reliever Joe Linn in the second after Portage Lake moved ahead 3-0.
"Joe Linn came in and threw hard," said Allen, noting the right-hander threw 95 pitches in relief. "Mike Holmberg did a good job, too. "This is just his first year."