MARQUETTE - A pair of young American Legion baseball teams will take part in a tournament this weekend in lieu of the participating at the Upper Peninsula Zone tournament that was held last weekend in Escanaba and Gladstone.
The Ishpeming Blue Storm and Marquette Reds join four other U.P. teams at the Menominee 18-Under Tournament that starts Friday afternoon.
"This is a good end-of-the-year tournament for us," Ishpeming manager Brian Fisher said. "We'll be competing against teams similar to us."
Marquette American Legion Reds’ Mark Ellison takes batting practice during a team practice at Haley Memorial Field in Marquette on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Danielle Lehto)
Marquette Reds manager Kane Beauchamp hopes the tourney could spur interest in having a state tourney for Junior Legion teams in the future.
"This could serve as an example of a Tier III tournament in the state," he said.
While teams like the Marquette Blues and Negaunee Diamonds feature mostly 17-, 18- and 19-year-olds, the Reds and Ishpeming have more players in the 14- to 16-year-old range, Fisher said.
"This is a good end-of-the-year tournament for us. We'll be competing against teams similar to us."
- BRIAN FISHER, manager
Ishpeming Blue Storm
Both teams have taken their lumps in the Mid-Peninsula League facing these older squads. So now is their time to shine.
"We've done what we've done all year just to prepare for this tournament," Beauchamp said. "For example, we've been out for a couple days in the hot, muggy weather practicing just as a measuring stick for how we'll fare playing in this kind of weather."
The Reds and Blue Storm are in the same three-team pool along with the Menominee junior varsity team for Friday's initial round of the tournament.
In the other pool are the Escanaba junior varsity, Mid-County Mavericks and Hancock, teams that are also young like Ishpeming and the Reds, according to Fisher.
"We're bringing up a couple kids from the Junior League team in the Ishpeming Little League for this weekend," Fisher said. "That's means we'll actually have a bench."
He said their addition with bring the roster to 13 players instead of the usual 10 the team had most of the season.
On Friday, the Reds face Menominee junior varsity at 1 p.m. EDT at Spies Field No. 1 and Ishpeming at 4:30 p.m. at Field 2. The three-team round-robin also includes Ishpeming playing Menominee at 8 p.m. at Field 1.
All six teams advance to Saturday's single-elimination play, with Friday's games used to seed them.
The top two teams earn a first-round bye, with the other four paired off in first-round games at 1 p.m. Saturday. The early-game winners advance to play the top teams at 4 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals, with the championship game scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.