ISHPEMING - Trailing Portage Lake just 4-2 after four innings Wednesday evening, the Ishpeming Junior (13-14) Little League baseball team was hanging tough against the defending District 11 champions.
Then the roof collapsed.
Portage Lake, taking advantage of several Ishpeming walks and wild pitches, scored eight runs in the fifth inning en route to a 12-3 victory.
Gavin Sundberg of Ishpeming bats against Portage Lake during the Little League District 11 Junior Championship game on?Wednesday at the Ishpeming Playgrounds. (Journal photo by Elizabeth Bailey)
The winners will now play Kingsford in Norway on Saturday in sectional play.
"I knew having seen Portage Lake play the last few years they're well coached and a good ballclub," Ishpeming manager Jeff Adriano said. "You have to play good, error-free baseball to beat them. We didn't.
"We had some momentum (entering the fifth frame), then everything fell apart."
Portage Lake got RBI-singles from Carson Turner, Vaughn Kapler and Clayton Sayen - his second of three singles in the game - to make it 7-3 with two outs.
But four Ishpeming wild pitches and a walk - all with the bases loaded - pushed across five more runs to give the winners a comfortable lead.
"Our kids hit well, then one of their pitchers (Wyatt Bodette) got in trouble," Portage Lake manager Jim Cortright said. "He struggled."
Jeff Adriano relieved his son, Jacob, after an effective 4 innings due to a high pitch count.
"That's the only reason why I did that," the manager said, noting his son had thrown 68 pitches to that point. "If I hadn't, he wouldn't have been available to pitch this weekend (in the sectionals)."
Ishpeming avoided a 10-run mercy rule final when Jacob Adriano got an infield hit with the bases loaded in the fifth, but could get no closer.
Portage Lake got an RBI-double to deep left-center from winning pitcher Pat Cortright in the first, a run-scoring groundout from Aaron Barnes in the second and two runs in the fourth on single by Sayen.
Ishpeming scored twice in the fourth on a balk and an error. Jacob Adriano posted two singles for Ishpeming.
Pat Cortright got the win on the mound for Portage Lake. He allowed two runs and a hit in four innings of work while walking two and striking out three.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is email@example.com.