Mercy me: Negaunee baseball team routs Ironwood in 5 innings in opener of MHSAA Division 3 baseball tournament

Negaunee’s Jacob Ennett bats against Ironwood during an MHSAA Division 3 district baseball tournament game Tuesday evening in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

NEGAUNEE — The Negaunee Miners ended the game early by mercying Ironwood 18-4 in five innings in the opening round of the MHSAA Division 3 baseball district tournament on Tuesday.

Negaunee head coach Jason Siik said his team is jelling just in time for the playoffs.

“I’m extremely proud of how hard this team has worked all year,” Siik said. “We’ve had a few more downs than ups, but they stuck with it and kept working hard, and it paid off today.

“We’re hitting the ball now better than we have all season, and it’s a sign of how well these kids are learning at this point in the year.”

The Miners brought a 5-1 lead into the fourth inning before putting the game out of reaching with a nine-run rally.

Negaunee tacked on four more insurance runs in the fifth to solidify the 10-run mercy rule that is invoked after five innings.

Ironwood head coach Dan Niemi said his team couldn’t respond to the early adversity.

“We looked good coming out the gates but the wheels fell off the cart real fast; we couldn’t mentally recover,” Niemi said. “They hit the ball really well, and we couldn’t hit BBs like we have in the past and you can’t play baseball that way.

“The whole aggression, attitude and mental aspect of the game went downhill, and that’s what hurt us.”

Mark Anderson pitched all five innings for Negaunee to earn the win, giving up four runs on six hits, recording four strikeouts while allowing one walk.

Siik said Anderson has held his team together through many situations this season.

“It was another outstanding day for him on the mound,” Siik said. “We’ve been relying on him all year and he’s gotten us through some times. You can see a lot of his great leadership coming through.”

Shane Ring was 3 for 3 at the plate for the Miners, batting in three runs and scoring three himself. Teammate Erik Voskuhl 2 went 2, also earning three RBIs while scoring twice.

Siik said better plate discipline is a key.

“A lot of kids saw a lot of pitches,” Siik said. “Sometimes we would get down 0-and-2 in counts, then turned them into walks.

“We’ve been teaching the kids all season to fight through at-bats, and they’re doing it now and it’s all coming together at the perfect time.”

Shawn Pertile led the Red Devils on offense, going 1 for 3 at the plate and batting in two runs.

The Miners continue to the district semifinals by hosting Iron Mountain at 10 a.m. Saturday with a trip to the championship game at 2 p.m. on the line.

Siik said his team is riding momentum heading into the weekend.

“Our hard work is showing on the field and it’s building confidence for our guys,” Siik said. “We’re going to be relying on great pitching, because that’s really the game of baseball. If we can bring these bats with us, it’s going to help us a lot get pretty far.”

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.