HANCOCK - A couple early runs weren't going to keep Ishpeming down in Little League District 11 Junior (age 13-14) tournament semifinals play Sunday at Hancock Driving Park.
With four runs in the fifth inning and six in the seventh, Ishpeming more than overcame its deficit for an 11-6 win over Keweenaw and a berth in Tuesday's championship game.
"We knew that we could win and we just had to find our bats and get our momentum," said Ishpeming centerfielder Luke Gray.
Gray went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a pair of doubles, the second of which was a blast to the fence in right-center to clear the bases and give Ishpeming its first lead of the day, 4-2.
"(Keweenaw pitcher Jake Anderson) threw a perfect fastball right to me and I just took advantage," Gray said.
Keweenaw took the early lead after a first-inning RBI single from Jack Hyrkas scored Robbie Erkkila and a second-inning walk led to Russ Bjorn coming around on multiple wild pitches.
However, Keweenaw couldn't escape a big jam in the fifth after Luke Kuliu reached on an error, Jeff Mathews singled to left and Thomas Finegan walked, setting up Gray's blast. Gray added to the lead with aggressive base running. Anderson fanned Austin Corp and Marcus Anttila for the first two outs of the inning, but strike three to Anttila was in the dirt and Gray stole home on the throw to first to complete the strikeout.
Sam Kariniemi's RBI single pulled a run back for Keweenaw and the tying run reached the plate several times in the bottom of the fifth, but never got past first.
Ishpeming shut the door in the seventh. Anderson reached his pitch count limit in retiring the last batter of the sixth, and three Keweenaw relievers were needed to get out of the seventh, in which Ishpeming massed its six runs on three errors, two walks, two hits and a hit by pitch.
Keweenaw rallied for three runs in the seventh with two out, but will have to defeat Portage Lake tonight at 5:30 p.m. for a chance to see Ishpeming again.
Travis Fredy was the winning pitcher in relief for Ishpeming, tossing 3 1/3 innings and allowing four earned runs on five hits. He struck out three and walked one.
Anderson took the loss, working six innings and allowing four earned runs on five hits while striking out 11 against three walks.
Kariniemi and Erkkila had two hits apiece.
Portage Lake overcame its initial defeat with a 10-6 win over Marquette in a back-and-forth elimination game Sunday.
PL overcame an early deficit to lead 3-2 after three innings, but had to recover from 6-3 down after Marquette hung pairs of runs in the fourth and fifth. Portage Lake tied it up with three in the bottom of the fifth, then took the lead for good with four runs in the sixth inning.
Jack Kochevar, Brandon Lotterman and Garrett Finkbeiner had two hits apiece for Marquette. Jake Phillips took the loss.
Marquette was sent to the elimination bracket after losing 10-6 to Ishpeming Saturday.