Ishpeming Majors fall short

IRONWOOD – A comeback finished off a fight back through five straight elimination games to a result in a Major (age 11-12) District 11 baseball championship for the Portage Lake Little League All-Stars Friday evening in Ironwood.

PL trailed 7-0 after three innings, but rallied for a 9-7 win over Ishpeming, completing a 4-for-4 sweep.

“The kids very easily could have folded and said ‘We’re done,’ but this team has a lot of heart, they battled every night and they took it one game at a time,” PL manager John Bostwick told the Ironwood Daily Globe.

The second championship game Friday was PL’s seventh game in seven days. Given pitching limitations, an innings-eating outing from Ashton Janke was essential, and he delivered, going 5 1/3 innings to earn the mound win.

It wasn’t easy, as Ishpeming loaded the bases in the top of the sixth after a close play at first, only for PL to get out of the jam and collect its district title.

PL’s six-run fourth inning got them back into the game, and they took the lead in the fifth. P.J. Donnelly laid down a bunt, which was thrown away, the first of a series of errors that led to a run and left Donnelly on third.

He then scored on a groundout to make it a 9-7 game.

“We just were patient and we got some good swings on the ball,” Bostwick said.

PL advances to the state tournament in Ishpeming starting Friday. It will play a minimum of three pool games against the champions of District 15 (southwest Lower Michigan), District 1 (Mid-Michigan) and District 7 (Port Huron area).