Baraga-L’Anse capture Little League title

STANTON – In baseball, mistakes can be the difference between the end of an inning and new life for the opposing team. Such was the case Wednesday night for Sayen’s Auto Sales against Baraga Drive-in/L’Anse. Key missed throws by Sayen’s allowed L’Anse to breathe new life in several innings en route to a 6-1 victory in the Senior Little League Baseball championship game.

L’Anse manager Derrick Elenich could not help but feel elated for the effort his team put in.

“We worked hard all season,” said Elenich. “The boys kept struggling at the plate, but I told them just to step up.

“We got a couple of huge hits and that really got us going[I’m] very proud of our boys.”

The two opponents had already faced each other twice this season, with each team winning on their home turf. Wednesday, L’Anse got the early jump thanks to some smart baserunning in the top of the second inning and they never looked back.

Milo Shaffer got things going when he reached first on an error. After stealing second, he was knocked home by a single from Paul Jacobson to right center.

The early lead allowed L’Anse to settle in and focus on defense first.

“It’s huge because whenever you are up in a game, players get motivated,” said Elenich. “I always told my boys, ‘Get up early. Run, get that cushion for your pitcher.'”

After the rough inning, Sayen’s starter Noah Bach settled down and held L’Anse in check until the fifth. Unfortunately, his teammates could not help him out with some run support.

“We had our opportunities to some runs on the board,” said Sayen’s manager Aaron Janke. “They made some good plays, they really did.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Sayen’s finally started to string some hits together off of L’Anse starter Tanner Lane.

Jaden Janke singled to center to open the inning. He reached second on a throwing error. Tyler Cleary followed with a single to deep left field, but Janke could not advance to third fast enough to allow Cleary to get to second. Neither Colin Cowell nor Owen Salo could bring them home.

Bach continued to pitch well for Sayen’s into the fifth inning before errors caused more problems for the hosts.

Logan Lloyd led off with a single to left field for L’Anse. Eli Shaffer singled to right field. A throwing error to home on the play allowed Lloyd to score. To make matters worse, Sayen’s catcher Sam Keskimaki overthrew the ball attempting to catch Shaffer on the basepath, and he was able to round third and score on the play as well.

Needing a spark, Sayen’s got a little bit of one in the bottom of the sixth when their bats came alive.

Shawn Ruotsala struck out, but reached first on a wild pitch. Ashton Janke then dribbled a ball to Bryce Crawford. The bouncing ball caught Crawford by surprise and snuck past him, allowing Janke to reach safely. Bach walked to load the bases.

Jaden Janke was nearly hit by a pitch prior to popping another up. Crawford made the catch and then tagged third to get a force out, leaving Sayen’s with just one more out.

A wild pitch by Lane put the remaining runners in scoring position. Another wild pitch allowed Ashton Janke to score.

Looking for a response, L’Anse got it in the top of the seventh. With Jaden Janke on the mound for Sayen’s, Jayden Demink led off with a single to center. Terry Reed followed with a double to deep center. After Reese Waara lhit into a fielder’s choice, there were still three runners on base. They were both brought home by Lloyd with a hit to right field. Lloyd then scored on a single by Eli Shaffer.

Shaffer was later caught in a rundown between third and home. Lane, who had singled after Shaffer, was also thrown out at third after the rundown.

In the bottom of the seventh, Salo singled to center. He moved to second on a wild pitch. Brady Schmierer walked. A throwing error allowed both runners to get into scoring position. Unfortunately, that was as close as they would get as Richard Pethtel and Ruotsala both were called out to end the threat and the game.