Little League: SNB downs Rajala’s Kitchen 5-3 for 12U championship

Superior National Bank poses after defeating Rajala’s Kitchen in the 12U Portage Lake Little League championship Thursday, June 30, 2022, in South Range, Mich. (Eddie O’Neill/The Daily Mining Gazette)

SOUTH RANGE — The Portage Lake Little League regular season came to an end on Thursday night for the 12U boys, and Superior National Bank came out on top with a 5-3 win over Rajala’s Kitchen.

This was the third time these two rivals had met this season. They were even at one win apiece against each other during the regular season. Rajala’s Kitchens entered the championship game with a 9-3 record while SNB came in at 10-2.

“We hit the ball well, and we had good pitching,” said SNB’s head coach Bruce Larson.

Both teams came out swinging in the first inning and pushed it to a 1-1 tie.

To start the first inning, Rajala’s Kitchen’s Chad Halonen got on base with a hit to the left side. He then reached second on a passed ball and eventually crossed home on a passed ball as well.

In the bottom of the first, SNB’s Blake Heltunen reached first on a base hit up the middle. Gunner Gullstrand then brought him home on a triple blasted to left field.

That is how the game remained until the bottom of the third, and then Gullstrand was back at the plate. This time he was swinging for the fences and reached them with solo blast to make it 2-1.

A bunt off the bat of SNB’s Jonathan Schuett helped add another run in the fourth.

In the fifth, a long fly ball hit by SNB’s Sylvia Aho allowed Kirk Larson to score. As well, Gullstrand crossed home in that frame to make it a 5-1 tilt.

While Rajala’s Kitchens would post two in the top of the sixth thanks to base hits by Grayson Kilpela and Victor Heinonen, it wouldn’t be enough to catch SNB.

“We had good pitching and almost errorless play in the field,” said SNB manager Bruce Larson. Heltunen went 4 2/3 innings and got the win for SNB. He struck out seven and allowed just one walk.

Despite the loss, Helminen said he had a great bunch of kids to work with.

“It was a fun season,” he said. “The kids grew a lot and played hard every game.”

RK 100 002 – 3

SNB 101 12x – 5

June 30

Calumet Machine beat Mohawk Technology 11-6. KBear defeated Copper Range Roofing and Contracting 7-1 in a semifinal matchup. Joe Halone, Liam Debaubien and Ethan Halonen pitched for KBear. CRR&C’s lone run came in the sixth as Tobin Baril doubled and scored on a Blake Lebo groundout. Halonen hit a grand slam in the fourth inning. KBear then added two runs when Debeaubien singled and scored on a Joe Halonen double. Niiko Johnson singled to score Halonen.

KBear and Calumet Machine play in the Keweenaw Little League championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at Gipp Fields in Laurium.

June 28

Superior National Bank defeated Superior Graphics 10-0 in a semifinal. SNB pitchers Gunner Gullstrand and Kirk Larson combined to allow one hit with four walks and 10 strikeouts. Blake Heltunen led SNB with a three-run home run. Gullstrand, Redik Randell, Sylvia Aho and Larson had hits for SNB. Maddox Videan had Superior Graphics’ lone hit.

June 26

Pats Foods beat Keweenaw Petroleum Services 15-14. Pats Foods rallied to score eight runs in the bottom of the sixth for the win. Team spokseman Bruce Heltunen said Pats Foods “manufactured runs by taking walks and took advantage of fielding errors and timely hitting by Nolan Webb, Henry Knock, Seth Heltunen and Roger Pietila.” Adin Asti and Lance Rautiola had RBI doubles. Rautiola had two doubles and a single. Jaron Moilanen had an RBI triple.

June 25

J. Peltier Construction defeated Tervo Agency 12-2 in the first round of the playoffs. Terrence Nolan got the win on the mound with seven strikeouts. Chase Keranen and Isaac Wanhala led J. Peltier Construction with three hits each. Colin Spencer had two hits. Emre Durocher and Kyler Puuri scored three times apiece. Marcus Miller led Tervo Agency with two hits.


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