Keweenaw’s tourney run ends to MQT on walk-off homer

SOUTH RANGE – The young Keweenaw All-Stars learned a cruel lesson Wednesday: The game of baseball plays no favorites, and it can be just as harsh and heartbreaking as it is exhilarating and rewarding.

Just a day after defeating Negaunee on a three-run home run, Keweenaw felt what it’s like to be on the other end of the spectrum. With Keweenaw leading 10-8 in the bottom of the sixth, Marquette’s Ty Lotterman launched a line-drive home run over the left-field fence for a walk-off, three-run home run and an 11-10 win, sending his teammates and fans into a frenzy while keeping Marquette’s title hopes alive in the Little League District 11 Majors tournament in South Range on Wednesday.

“That’s baseball; it’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, and today we get the defeat,” Keweenaw assistant coach Abe Voelker said.

There was a 10-15 mile per hour constant breeze blowing in, but it made no difference on Lotterman’s rocket to left.

“(The pitch) was right down the middle,” Lotterman said. “I just saw it and wanted to hit it I honestly thought it was (going) foul.”

Added Marquette head coach Brian Myers: “I knew it had the distance over the fence. My wish was that it would stay fair because the wind was pushing and it was hooking, but I knew it had the distance for sure.”

The top four batters in Marquette’s lineup – Liam Peterson, Drew Dellies, Desmond Mullen and Lotterman – recorded eight of the team’s nine hits, with each tallying two, and it was the top of the of the order that ignited the sixth-inning rally. Peterson singled before getting out at second on a force out as Dellies reached first. Mullen, who launched a two-run homer in the second inning, was awarded first after taking a pitch to the hip. Then, Lotterman recorded his third, fourth and fifth RBIs.

“We knew going into the bottom of the sixth that we had the top of our lineup and we were feeling pretty good about that,” Myers said. “But before that, in the top of the sixth, Lotterman had to come in and pitch a good inning.”

Keweenaw appeared poised to blow the game open in the top of the sixth, loading the bases with just one out. But they would score just one run when Art Eskola scored on a passed ball, while Lotterman recorded two strikeouts to get out of the inning without the Keweenaw bats able to apply major damage.

Just as Lotterman’s single swing of the bat made the difference, Keweenaw was left searching for one more clutch hit; in the first, second and fourth innings, Keweenaw stranded runners on second and third.

“That stings, but we had our breaks at times as well,” Voelker said. “We’re a young team and learning. These are kids and that’s just sports and baseball.”

Early on, each team appeared poised to break the 20-run mark. Marquette took a 3-1 lead after the first, only to see Keweenaw rally for a five-run inning in the top of the second before the winners responded with a four-run second inning capped by Mullen’s towering center-field home run for a 7-6 lead after two. Mullen’s homer was his fourth of the tournament.

“He has the power every time he goes to the plate,” Myers said of Mullen. “The homer is an option, it’s a chance for him. He swings hard and has an eye for the ball.”

Cooper Myers earned the start for Marquette and went three innings. The six runs scored on him while he pitched were unearned due to four Marquette errors. Cooper Myers struck out four, walked four and allowed six hits.

Jackson Rilei led Keweenaw with three hits and an RBI; Rilei pitched the first 4 2/3 and allowed six earned runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out four.

Mason Codere led Keweenaw in RBIs with three, while he and Tom Voelker each had two hits. Caleb Klein gave Keweenaw the lead in the fifth on a grounder up the middle to score Seth Coppo and Codere for a 9-8 lead.

“We had a great season,” Abe Voelker said. “It was a thrill to coach them. All-Stars is always a blast. They represented their league and parents very well.”

Marquette will face Penokee Range in a rematch at 6 p.m. today. Penokee Range topped Marquette 11-6 on Sunday. Penokee Range finds itself in the loser’s bracket after falling 11-0 to Portage Lake in 3 1/2 innings on Wednesday. The winner of Marquette-Penokee Range will face Portage Lake at 6 p.m. on Friday in the title game. Either Marquette or Penokee Range will have to defeat Portage Lake twice to win the district title. The “if necessary” game will be played at 4 p.m. on Saturday.