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Gremlins baseball wins marathon district tournament

Houghton’s Eli Heathman was the starter on Sunday in the MHSAA Division 3 District 65 championship game against Iron Mountain at the John Bostwick Memorial Field in Houghton. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — A typical day of high school baseball includes a doubleheader of six innings each. A postseason game is just one seven-inning game. On Sunday, the Houghton Gremlins played the equivalent of three regular season games over the course of seven hours and won a MHSAA Division 3 District 65 title for their labors.

Why so many innings? Blame it on Game One of the semifinal matchup against the Hancock Bulldogs. A 5-5 tie in the sixth inning carried over to the 12th inning before the Gremlins plated the winning run.

After that victory came another back-and-forth battle for the district title with the Iron Mountain Mountaineers. This one ended “on time” in the prescribed seven innings with a 5-4 victory.

“Perseverance was the name of the game today,” said Houghton coach Kevin Bostwick. “The boys never gave up and on a warm day in the field.”

After posting two scoreless innings, the Gremlins got on the scoreboard first with Hudson Markham singling and scoring. The Gremlins scored again in their half of the fourth but so did the Mountaineers – twice – to tie this one at four.

It was a short tie however, as the Gremlins scored twice on errors by the Mountaineers in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. While the boys from Iron Mountain scored in the fifth as well, they could not catch up to the Gremlins who tacked on one more in the seventh and won this one 5-4.

Bostwick sited strong pitching and consistent hitting as key in this one. While Eli Heathman earned the win for the Gremlins on the mound going four plus innings, it was Henry Switzer who came in and slammed the door in relief according to Bostwick.

At the plate, Latham Salmi, Joel Durocher and Markham all had RBI hits.

“I can’t say enough about our catcher Kyle Primeau who caught both games,” Bostwick added. “That is a lot of time behind the plate.”

ROAD TO THE FINALS

The Gremlins’ journey to the championship game began at noon on Sunday and ended more than three hours later with a 6-5 win against their rivals, the Bulldogs. While Houghton’s Salmi broke the 5-5 tie with a single in the top of the 12th, it was pitcher Rylan Issacson who guided the Gremlins through inning after extra innings.

He earned the win by coming in the third inning and going the distance for eight more. He allowed six hits, no earned runs and struck out five along the way.

“He threw a gem,” said his coach. “He allowed no earned runs and that was key.”

The Mountaineers afternoon started with a 6-1 win over the Negaunee Miners.

While he certainly would like to be preparing for a regional semifinal instead of collecting jerseys, Iron Mountain coach Jeff Mclean said it was a great season for his team despite a 4-17 record.

“The kids battled today and never gave up,” he said. “That has been indicative of our season as the kids put in the effort to get better, and I’m very proud of them for that.”

UP NEXT

With the win on Sunday, the Gremlins improved to 14-8. They advance to the Division 3 Region 33 semifinals against Gladstone (21-11) in Gladstone on Wednesday.

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