Portage Lake power surge as team scores 56 runs

Portage Lake's Kade Farrell up to bat at a game against the Marquette Junior Little League which took place Saturday evening at Harley Field.

MARQUETTE — The Portage Lake Junior Little League team is bringing a trophy back to the Keweenaw Peninsula after a two-game sweep of Marquette in the District 11 tournament at the Marquette North Field complex on Saturday afternoon.

Portage Lake took a 21-4 victory in Game 1 before cranking out the bats again for a 35-0 victory in Game 2 to claim the district title. Both games were ended under the mercy rule in four innings.

Portage Lake head coach Kit Cischke said despite lopsided scores, his team’s pitching didn’t come alive until Game 2. However, his team stuck to fundamental baseball throughout the afternoon.

“We struggled with pitching a little bit in the first game but it was really on in the second game,” Cischke said. “The kids were running hard, making the fundamental plays, I’ve always told the kids that baseball is really simple.The team that throws and catches the best wins games. We were making plays, throwing good pitches and the bats were coming alive.”

Cischke added it feels good to bring a trophy home to the Keweenaw and its communities after they were devastated by flooding last month.

“The nicest thing about this is that after all of the flooding we had, this is a nice thing to bring home to the community,” he said. “Just so we can say ‘look we’re not just here, but we’re still kicking and doing great.'”

Marquette head coach Shane Cromell said it simply wasn’t his team’s day on the diamond.

“It just wasn’t our day,” he said. “They (Portage Lake) had disciplined hitters for sure.”

Cromell added he had fun working with his group of players throughout the Little League season.

“It was a good time,” he said. “Just a bad day.”

After the 21-4 victory in Game 1, it was do-or-die for Marquette in Game 2 as a Best-of-Three series.

Derek Pederson took the rubber for Marquette in Game 2 and got off to a rough start after walking consecutive hitters Kade Farrell and and Dylan Horning. With two runners on, Caleb Bach hit a line-drive double to left field to bring home Farrell and Horning making the score 2-0.

With Bach on second, Nick Horning was then walked before Dylan Primeau knocked a single to load the bases. Gaborik Carlson got another base hit to score two more runs making it 4-0.

After the seventh batter of the inning Jonah Horning was hit by a pitch, Marquette finally got its first out of the contest when Nathan Isaacson hit into an infield fly, which by rule is an automatic out.

20 more batters stepped up to the plate before Portage Lake grounded out to first to end the inning. 29 batters stepped up into the plate in all and 24 runs were scored in the frame.

Portage Lake sent 14 batters to the plate in the second, scoring eight runs, and added three more in the third before the game was mercied in the fourth.

Farrell took the mound for Portage Lake and struck out five in the contest.

Portage Lake second baseman Cameron Cischke said he and his teammates struggled to get going against Marquette’s pitching in Game 1 before exploding in Game 2.

“The first game was a little closer,” he said. “They (Marquette) probably had one of their best pitchers pitching for most of it. We had a little bit of a hard time but obviously, we still came out on top.”

Despite the lopsided scores, Cischke expressed some sportsmanship by saying he wished for a more competitive and hard-fought contest.

“The second game wasn’t really fun by the end honestly,” he said. “It was fun to get hits, but it’s not exactly fun to cream them like that.”

Portage Lake now advances to the sectional tournament against the winner of District 10, which will be played in two weeks.

Coach Cischke said sticking to fundamentals will be the key to advancing in the tournament.

“We’ve got to keep doing the fundamental things right, they’re a good group of ball players and I think there’s no reason that we can’t take the next step to Petoskey,” he said.