Negaunee loses state tourney opener, but uncovers a good pitcher
TAYLOR — Though things didn’t go well for Negaunee on Saturday, manager Jeff Martin made one important discovery in the Marquette County team’s opening game at the Little League baseball Minors division state tournament.
“Weston Yesney displayed a tremendous close … and held West Portage from scoring any more runs,” he said.
“He pitched the fourth (inning) and got them out in just 13 pitches.
“This is the first time he’s pitched in the all-star tournament.”
Unfortunately, it was too late to avert a 12-1 deficit and invoke the mercy rule after four innings.
It knocked Negaunee into the consolation bracket, where it will have to win eight games in as many days to capture the state title in this 16-team double-elimination event.
Today’s game at 1 p.m. will be against the loser of Saturday’s game between Taylor North Central — essentially the state tournament home team — and Grand Rapids Northeastern.
On Saturday, Negaunee scored its lone run in the first inning when Morgan Robar reached on a walk and moved around the basepaths, scoring on a wild pitch.
“We had runners on base just about every inning,” Martin said, “but they played really good defense.
“The game changer, though, was our defense. We just didn’t play very well in the field.”
He acknowledged that the big stage of the state tourney could’ve been the reason for these 8-, 9- and 10-year-old boys who played their District 11 tournament at home at Bernie Rivers Memorial Field.
He didn’t have details on the West Portage scoring, their hits or his team’s errors, but did on his own batters.
Ty Jacobson led the way for Negaunee with two hits, including a double, while Tristan Miller had a double and Aiden Martin, Hank Tincknell, Aiden Steele and Ian Engstrom all had a single.
The manager attempted to save his pitchers’ arms by sending four to the mound in the game’s four innings. Miller started, walking none and striking out three, and was followed by Aiden Martin, Steele and Yesney.
All but Miller threw fewer than 20 pitches, allowing them the quickest turnaround with a game every day as long as they keep winning.
Jeff Martin also said before the state tourney began that he has eight potential pitchers among his 12 players, a good sign for a long comeback.
If Negaunee wins today, it plays at 4 p.m. Monday against one of four teams that includes the Upper Peninsula’s other representative in the tourney, Kingsford.
Games to follow would be played at 6 p.m. Tuesday, 5 p.m. Wednesday, 5 p.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday and noon next Sunday.
The team might be able to forget about its tough game on Saturday after four dozen players, relatives and fans got to watch the Detroit Tigers defeat Houston 5-3 at Comerica Park in Detroit on Saturday evening.
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.