Portage Lake plates 18 runs to win district title

MARQUETTE – The Portage Lake Minors team had scored at least 10 runs in every game of the Little League District 11 tournament leading up to Friday’s championship game.

Nevertheless, the boys from the Houghton and Hancock area arguably saved their best performance for last as they rolled past Ishpeming 18-3 to win the district title, beating the Marquette County team for the second day in a row after dropping a heartbreaker to the same opponent in extra innings on Tuesday.

Portage now moves on to the state tournament next weekend in Midland.

“I wish I could bottle whatever we have with the bats right now,” PL head coach Wes Frahm said. “If we could score 10 runs in every game of the state tournament, we’ll be in great shape. Everybody hit and got on base and did their jobs today.”

The game was close for two innings with Portage holding onto a 2-1 lead before busting loose in the top of the third.

Bryce Pugh hit a two-run single in the initial big rally and Bryce Hanner added an RBI single to help give Portage a 6-1 advantage.

Ishpeming got a run back in its half of the third when Nathan LaCosse scored on a wild pitch. Portage wasn’t deterred, though, as it padded its lead with three more runs in the fourth on an RBI double by Pugh and RBI single by Hanner.

Ishpeming got something going offensively in its half of the fifth with back-to-back hits to start things off, plating a run on a sacrifice fly by Hayden Hares. But that’s all it could manage as Portage nailed down the win in the sixth with seven more runs.

“It’s tough that it came to an end, but they’re a good team over there,” Ishpeming head coach Tim Hares said. “We hit the ball very well, but they made some spectacular plays and that happens in baseball.

“It was a good year, though. We made it to the district finals this year and last year we made it to the loser’s bracket final and took third. This year we took second, so maybe we’ll win it next year.”