Flames doused in Zone 5

ESCANABA – As sure as the hot July sun beat down on Al Ness Field Friday, the Kingsford Blues moved a step closer to a zone tournament championship in a 13-2 American Legion baseball victory over the Escanaba Cubs.

Kingsford, which had already qualified for the state tourney, advanced to today’s championship contest at 1. A second title game, if necessary, will be played Sunday noon (EDT).

Esky, also a state tourney qualifier, was scheduled to host Menominee at 10 this morning.

Menominee unleashed a 14-hit attack to eliminate Marquette 9-5 in Friday’s nightcap.

Kingsford led 2-1 after two innings of Friday’s winner’s bracket game, then added four runs in the third and seven in the fourth.

“This was perfect timing and I credit lot of that to good defense,” said Kingsford manager Dek Forstrom. “I think we had one error in 21 innings and that’s what wins ball games. When we beat Marquette (3-0 on Thursday), we were already in the state tournament and the guys never let up. That’s when you know you’re playing good baseball.”

The Cubs (10-12-1) scored in the second on Tyler Willette’s single to rightfield, trimming their deficit to 2-1.

Kingsford extended its lead to 4-1 on Justin Grailer’s two-run single to center in the third. Guy Barrows put the Blues up 5-1 on a double to left-center and Andy Barker made it 6-1 on a sacrifice fly to center.

Kingsford’s fourth was highlighted by a three-run homer to left-center by Anthony Rebera, a two-run double to left by Dan Harrington and a two-run single to left by Noah Voss.

“This is probably the first time all year we didn’t pitch or play defense,” said Esky manager Tom Ohman. “Kingsford can hit. They took advantage of every mistake we made.”

Logan Lamb provided Esky with its second run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth.

Kingsford scored first on Rebera’s single to left in the opening frame and executed a double steal for its second run in the second inning.

Esky’s Sam Hall pitched 2 1/3 innings and absorbed the loss. He walked two and allowed six runs on six hits.

“They squared up on Sam pretty good,” said Ohman. “We’ll regroup and come back tomorrow. We’re by no means out of this. We could make this go into Sunday.”

John Edwardson went the distance for the win. He struck out two, walked three, hit a batter and gave up five hits.

“John wasn’t really on his A game, but pitched well enough to get through,” said Forstrom. “Escanaba has a good team. Their kids never give up.”

Kingsford finished with 12 hits. Voss, Rebera, Barrows and Jacob Mongrain had two apiece. Justin Popelka led Esky with two.

Esky committed two errors and Kingsford had one.

In an earlier game, Marquette took advantage of five errors and eliminated Gladstone 13-4.

Trevor Koski had three hits and Austin Wachnicki added two each for Marquette, which scored five times in the third and sixth.

Jake Peterson, Lucas Weinert and Hunter Botruff had two hits apiece for the Indians.

“It was pretty much self-inflicted,” said Gladstone manager Justin Jurek. “We walked too many, errors hurt us and they got too many hits. I think this was an eye-opening experience more than anything.”

Peterson, who worked five innings, absorbed the loss. He fanned three and walked three and surrendered 11 runs on 10 hits through five frames.

“The guys were always battling no matter what,” said Jurek. “The season started rough, but we were peaking coming into the tournament. The most disappointing part is we were playing well and had high expectations, but didn’t do as well as we hoped (in the tourney).”

Mark Pulver and Andrew Leinonen had two hits each as Menominee dispatched Copper Country 14-4 in five innings Friday morning. Winning pitcher Nathan Nowack whiffed four and walked three.

Flames fall on Thursday

Kingsford punched its ticket to the state tournament in a 9-0 rout of Copper Country.

Justin Grailer the the Blues with three hits. Anthony Robera had two.

WInning pitcher Brett Swanson whiffed four, walked none and scattered three hits through six frames. Hans Stimac, who lasted five innings, took the loss.

Brock Grenier tossed a three-hitter, fanned eight and walked none in Kingsford’s 3-0 triumph over Marquette in the opening round.

Dan Harrington scored the first run on a wild pitch in the opening frame. Kingsford then scored twice in the seventh.

Riley Lynch worked six innings and took the loss. He struck out six, walked one and allowed a run on seven hits.