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Channing wins 20th annual Durocher Tourney

Dean Kangas-State Farm’s Brady Turner hits against Channing during the 20th annual Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament championship game on Sunday, July 12, 2020, at Stanton Field in Stanton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

STANTON — Two-out rallies were Channing’s calling card all weekend.

On Sunday, the Railroaders (3-0) rallied to beat Dean Kangas-State Farm and win the 20th annual Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament championship.

It’s the Railroaders’ first Durocher Tournament championship since 2014.

“We got a good group we’ve had for a long time. That’s the big thing,” Channing manager Barry Holsworth said. “These guys have been playing together at least 10 years.”

The Holsworth core of the Railroaders, including brothers Barry Holsworth, Lane Holsworth, Luke Holsworth, along with their cousin Wade Holsworth, were part of the Felch team that won the Durocher Tournament in 2004.

It was State Farm’s second straight appearance in the championship game after losing to Stanton last year.

“It went all right, we just couldn’t clutch up with hits and had the bases loaded,” State Farm manager Brian Juopperi said. “Channing, they got the big hits. They cleared the bases a couple times and we didn’t. Overall, I thought we played all right. We made a couple errors in the field, but we definitely had traffic on the bases. Channing, they have a good team. They’re a solid squad.”

Channing nearly came back with a seven-inning rally against Stanton in the 2018 championship, losing 9-7. The rally the Railroaders didn’t get in that game was at the ready for them Sunday. And Channing took it and ran with it all weekend.

Of the 20 innings Channing batted during the weekend, the Railroaders put a runner on base after two outs in 12 of those innings. Channing scored 14 runs with two outs on the weekend, including five in the championship game.

The Railroaders finished the tournament leading all teams with the batting average/on-base/slugging slash line — .290/.404/.529. State Farm (2-4), by contrast, finished the tournament with a .214/.342/.396 line.

“That’s not too common for our team, so it was nice to see that kind of last,” Barry Holsworth said.

The Railroaders outscored opponents 26-5 on the weekend in their first games since losing the Superiorland Baseball League championship last August.

“The bats showed up — defense is always solid. The bats were here,” Barry Holsworth said. “Especially with our first three games of the year, I’d say they performed pretty well.”

Dan Harrington hit a bases-loaded double with two outs in the third to give the Railroaders breathing room with a 6-2 lead. Harrington hit an RBI triple in the second. He finished the game with five RBI and the tournament MVP trophy after hitting 6 for 8 on the weekend. Harrington’s average led all batters with at least two games played averaging two at-bats per game. His final slash line was .750/.778/1.375.

Harrington, a 2015 Kingsford High School graduate and Flivvers basketball standout, hadn’t even faced live pitching since playing American Legion ball a few years ago.

“Any live game pitching or anything like that, it was the first time in a while,” Harrington said. “We’ve been hitting once a week in practice and it’s been going well. Just good to get out here and see some live pitching. It went well for the whole team.”

On Saturday, Channing beat Garnet Garage-Subway 5-1. Channing blanked Stanton 10-0 in Saturday’s nightcap, eliminating the Wildcats with five runs in the fifth — all with two outs. Ken Pekarek flew out and then Brad Gustafson grounded out to short stop. The Railroaders then rallied with two hits, reach-on-error, three singles, a walk and a wild pitch to score the mercy-rule run.

The baseball gods also looked favorably upon Dean Kangas-State Farm, a team that was winless in the Twilight Baseball League going into the tournament. State Farm outscored opponents 24-10 before the championship game. State Farm beat REL Inc.-Mohawk Technologies 10-1 Friday and defeated Negaunee Tri-City 14-9 Saturday afternoon.

State Farm’s luck ran out Sunday against Channing, but they didn’t go down without a fight. They loaded the bases in the first inning with their own two-out rally, but a flyout to short ended the threat. State Farm’s Jason Koski doubled to lead off the second and advanced to third on a groundout to the right side, but State Farm struck out and grounded out. State Farm scored twice in the third and later loaded the bases with two outs, but a strikeout prevented a larger threat.

State Farm threatened again in the sixth, loading the bases with walks on one out. A groundout to short by Dave Wesa scored one and another groundout to short ended the inning.

Scott Wesa doubled to lead off State Farm’s half of the seventh in a bid for a walk-off rally. A strikeout and flyout raised the stakes. Brady Turner walked and Travis Wesa singled to score Scott Wesa and make it an 11-4 game with runners on first and third. But Carson Turner struck out to end the game.

Harrington started on the mound for Channing and Tyler Miller pitched in relief. The duo surrendered the four runs on seven hits with a combined six strikeouts and eight walks.

Brady Turner and Dave Wesa pitched for State Farm. They gave up a combined 11 runs on 10 hits with nine walks and eight strikeouts.

Koski hit a grand slam in Saturday’s game against Negaunee Tri-City en route to the 14-9 win.

Juopperi said the tournament wins boosted State Farm’s confidence moving forward in the Twilight season.

“For sure, we got a couple wins. That always helps boost the confidence up a little bit,” Juopperi said. “I think we were 0-3 coming into this. It was nice to get a couple wins and get the confidence up.”

A schedule for the Superiorland Baseball League has not yet been set. Channing is idle for now. State Farm plays at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Stanton.

Garnet Garage-Subway plays at REL Inc.-Mohawk Technologies at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Driving Park.

Championship Game

Channing 024 112 1 — 11 10 2

DK-State Farm 002 001 1 — 4 7 3

Saturday, July 11

Game 3

GG-Subway 000 010 0 — 1 1 3

Channing 120 110 X — 5 6 0

Game 4

Negaunee 420 002 1 — 9 7 3

State Farm 205 115 X — 14 10 1

Game 5

Negaunee 000 100 1 — 2 3 2

REL Inc.-MT 100 021 X — 4 4 1

Game 6

Stanton 000 00 — 0 3 3

Channing 202 15 — 10 11 0

Friday, July 10

Game 1

GG-Subway 000 000 1 — 1 1 1

SNB-Stanton 703 400 X — 14 8 0

Game 2

REL Inc.-MT 000 000 0 — 0 2 0

DK-State Farm 150 202 X — 10 7 1

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