Weather, finances unable to dampen Ishpeming’s experience hosting Little League State Tournament

ISHPEMING – If he ever has another opportunity to host a state Little League baseball tournament, Jeff Adriano wouldn’t hesitate.

“If we had the opportunity to do it all over again, we’d do it,” the Major League tournament director said Wednesday of the Ishpeming event held July 18-24.

“Obviously, we were concerned about hosting 16 teams. We’ve never hosted a tourney of that size before,” Adriano said. “It was a pretty big undertaking.

“But from the response we’ve gotten from the coaches, players and fans, everyone was happy with the tournament.”

Mother Nature made it necessary to make some adjustments at the beginning of the tourney. A chicken dinner the first night had to be moved from the Ishpeming Sports Complex to the Elks Lodge nearby due to thunderstorms.

In addition, pre-tournament activities scheduled for the Ishpeming High School football stadium the same night were relocated to the IHS gym and a skills competition was delayed two days.

And opening-round play on Friday, July 19, was delayed for about two hours due to water on the two fields used in the tourney.

“Our biggest concern was Thursday, when we had a lot of activities planned,” Adriano said. “We needed to have a back-up plan in place and we just moved everything indoors.

“We knew we’d get the games in, though.”

Several of the games went extra innings or down to the last at-bat, making for some close contests. In the championship game, Grosse Pointe Woods Shores nipped Bay City Northwest, 1-0.

“Everything I’ve heard since our tournament has been positive,” said Adriano, adding Grosse Pointe is 2-2 in regional play heading into action today.

“One coach told me our tourney was better than the one they were in last year.”

He said the crowds were a little disappointing.

“Not having a local team in the tournament did affect attendance,” Adriano said, “but I was pleasantly surprised the stands were filled and the outfield fences were lined with people for the 10 a.m. championship game.”

He said tourney officials are still working on the final cost of holding the event, but estimated there’s a current loss of $3,000-4,000.

“We’re working with some area businesses to help erase the deficit or make it more manageable,” Adriano said.

He added a baseball tourney for those 9-11 years of age may be held in the near future as a fundraiser.

Adriano said the tournament committee could have done a better job of soliciting advertising, especially in Marquette, where many of the teams stayed.

“We dropped the ball there,” he said. “It would have helped our budget.”

But Adriano said with the close competition and the help of so many volunteers, the tournament was a “fantastic experience.”

“We represented our league and our area very well,” he said.