KINGSFORD - Leaning on its defense and then taking advantage of a couple of infield miscues, Kingsford scored a 3-2 walk-off win over the Marquette Blues on Tuesday evening in American Legion baseball at Lodal Park.
"I thought our defense just played an excellent game," Kingsford manager Kevin Murdock said.
Kingsford's Austin Murdock delivered the game's deciding play, sending a two-out chopper to short that was mishandled, allowing C.J. Qualley to race in from third with the winning run.
Marquette’s Ryan Hanson is forced out at second by Kingsford’s C.J. Qualley during Tuesday’s American Legion baseball game at Lodal Park in Kingsford. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Theresa Proudfit)
Qualley reached with one out in the inning when he swatted a single to right. He stole second during the next at-bat and moved to third with two outs when Cole Tengesdahl reached on a grounder to the right side.
While Tengesdahl's speed down the line was going to make it a close play for Marquette's (16-9) first baseman - who had to retreat deep behind the bag to field the ball - a fumble on the pick-up allowed Tengesdahl to reach without a challenge, extending the inning for Murdock.
Murdock already had three hits ahead of his final plate appearance. He singled and scored the game's first run on a wild pitch in the second, and he put Kingsford (5-6) up 2-0 an inning later with a sharp line-drive single to left after an error extended that inning. Murdock added a lead-off double to the gap in left center in the sixth.
"The one kid you can't afford to let get to you is Murdock," Marquette manager Derek Swajanen said. "And he had a hand in all the scoring."
In the sixth, Murdock tagged out Marquette's best chance to take the lead. A liner down the left field line by Luke Swajanen had Colton Wiggins attempting to race home from second. Wes Paupore came up firing to cut-off man Aidan Wienke, who spun and quickly relayed a perfect strike to Murdock who denied access to the plate and applied the tag.
With Luke Swajanen reaching second on the play, the threat wasn't completely over, but relief pitcher Cole Michaud reached up to snag a rocket line-drive destined for center field to end the inning.
Michaud, who entered in the fifth, earned the win. He left the bases loaded in the fifth by striking out the only batter he saw, and then limited Marquette to three hits the rest of the way.
Wienke cruised through the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Three consecutive singles by Derek Stone, Ryan Walther and Hunter Larson turned Kingsford's 2-0 advantage into a tie game.
Wienke allowed six hits while striking out three and walking three.
Marquette's Larson had a three-hit day, including his RBI in the fifth. Wiggins hit a double to get things going in Marquette's sixth.
Mackinley Larson took the loss in a complete-game effort.
"An easy ground ball we should have had, a guy thrown out at the plate, it could have easily been 3-2 to the other way," Swajanen said.