ESCANABA - The Tri-County and Escanaba 9-10 year old Minor Little League teams put together convincing wins Tuesday night in District 10 Tournament play, as Tri-County routed Gladstone 17-1 and Escanaba came away with the 11-6 triumph.
Lucas Kanerva pitched the complete game victory for Tri-County, finishing with 63 pitches. He gave a dominating performance from the mound and his team gave him plenty of run support to earn the win.
"Lucas pitched a great game," said Tri-County coach Mike Rondeau. "With what he did in four innings, you can't beat that."
Justin Marietti | Daily Press
Lucas Kanerva of Tri-County pitches during the first inning of their game against Gladstone, Tuesday, at Dickson Field in Escanaba. Tri-County won 17-1.
Justin Marietti | Daily Press
Jordan Schafer of Escanaba waits for a pitch during their game against Munising, Tuesday, at Dickson Field in Escanaba. Escanaba won 11-6 after four innings.
Tri-County began the second inning with a 2-0 lead, but their offense would explode from there. Blake Krouth smashed a double to the fence, then Trevor Hanson brought him home with an RBI single. Kanerva hit his second double of the game to score another run, and after a series of passed balls and runners advancing, the score was 9-0.
They had another burst in the fourth inning, which turned out to be another six-run effort. Krouth nearly took the skin off the ball when he crushed an RBI triple, and a passed ball allowed him to score to make it 13-0. Hanson followed it with an RBI double to score Dakota Maki, and some more mishaps with loose balls allowed Tri-County to end the fourth up 17-0.
"It was a great game," Rondeau said. "The hitters got deep in the counts to work their pitchers really hard, and we had good quality hits.
"The top of our lineup was just lights out, and the bottom half worked the counts. They were just phenomenal."
Gladstone's Cameron Ballard belted a double and rounded the bases on steals to score his team's first run, but Kanerva was just too overpowering, ending the game on a groundout and a strikeout.
"The kids were just intimidated," said Gladstone coach Steven Viau. "They had a dominant, big pitcher, and I think they were scared from the get-go. And their team could hit.
"I told the kids, 'Let's put this one behind us and start over tomorrow,' and I think they can do that."
Escanaba came out early, running off to an 11-2 lead due in large part to their seven-run fourth inning. Hunter Lancour and Ayden Mylander had back-to-back singles to start things off, and Nathan Howes began the scoring with an RBI single to left field to make it 5-2.
That was followed by an absolute shot by Jayger Lamarch that sent home two runs. After a passed ball, Lamarch came home as well.
Jordan Schafer smacked an RBI single that sailed past the pitcher and the second baseman to score a runner, and Marshall Zelenak hit a grounder that turned into an RBI double to put his team up 10-2.
"That was fantastic," said Escanaba coach Steve Howes. "They really played hard, and they were unbelievable. We also got some good pitching and some really good, timely hits."
Munising began to mount a comeback with two outs against them in the bottom of the fourth. Brett Cromell got on with a base hit, then Jesse Duran ripped one to left field to score a runner. After a commotion, the base runners made their way into scoring position, and then a series of passed balls allowed two more runs to score and bring Munising within five runs.
However, as the sunlight began to fade and the rain began to fall harder, the umpires inevitably called the game due to weather and Escanaba claimed the victory.
Gladstone and Munising will play in an elimination game at 5 p.m. tonight, followed by Tri-County against Escanaba at 7 p.m. with the winner of that game advancing directly to the district finals bracket.