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Garnet downs Coldwell 12-11 in extra innings

Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette Garnet Garage’s Chris Saari delivers a pitch during a Twilight League game Tuesday evening against Craig Heinonen Coldwell Banker.

HOUGHTON — By the top of the third inning in Tuesday’s Twilight League game between Garnet Garage and Craig Heinonen Coldwell Banker, Garnet manager Joe Romano had nothing nice to say about his team on the field. His squad trailed, 6-2, due, in large part, to a lot of errors.

“Their minds aren’t in the game,” Romano said. “If you cannot field the ball, you don’t deserve to win.”

Fast forward about 70 minutes, Romano was singing a completely different tune as his boys had overcome a 9-4 deficit to earn a 12-11 victory with an extra innings victory in the bottom of the eighth.

“Maybe I spoke too soon,” he said with a smile. “But we cannot put ourselves in a hole like we did and expect to win.”

At the start, the game tilted heavily towards Coldwell. Facing the Garnet battery of Chris Saari on the mound and his brother Mike behind the plate, Coldwell scraped together five runs off of four hits in the first. They took advantage of two walks and three errors as well to collect the runs.

Meanwhile, Garnet countered with two hits – both doubles – off the bats of Justin Norkel and Mike Saari. Both later came home to score, getting Garnet on the board and making it a 5-2 game after one frame.

Coldwell’s bats remained consistent as they added a run in the second and another in the third. They followed that success up with two more in the fifth and the sixth.

Headed into the bottom half of the sixth, Garnet found themselves down 11-4. However, they took the game back batter by batter. They cobbled together six runs before Coldwell could record an out in the inning.

Garnet’s third baseman Tom Barber reached first on an error. A base hit by Chris Saari to the left side advanced Barber. Jordan Reynolds then reached on an infield error by Coldwell’s shortstop. Up stepped Carter Crouch, who cleared the bases with a bunt down the third-base line that caught Coldwell off guard. The perfectly placed bunt put him on third due to throwing errors.

“Carter’s bunt was the spark that ignited us,” said Romano. “My faith in this team started to come back after that.”

Base hits by Justin Norkel and Will Romano added fuel to the fire as well as both eventually crossed home plate. After six innings, it was now an 11-10 game in favor of Coldwell.

“That was a bad inning for us as we didn’t play defense,” said Coldwell’s player/coach Ross Kinnunen.

Chris Saari shut down the Coldwell lineup in the top of the seventh with two strikeouts.

Garnet had three outs to tie the game, and they did. Chris Saari reached first on an error and made it to third on more errors and came home on a sacrifice fly to left field off the bat of Reynolds.

Tied 11-11, Coldwell was able to put runners at first and second in the top of the eighth, but that is as far as they got. Garnet did the same but with different results. Romano started the inning off with a double. He moved to third on a Mike Saari rope to left and trotted home on a hard-hit line drive to right center by Brandon Norkel.

“Both Norkel boys hit the ball so well tonight,” said Romano. “Brandon has such a natural swing, and it got us a big win.”

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