Keep holding on

Marquette Majors outlast Penokee move into District 11 title game

Marquette’s Jack Sides, right, slides onto home plate as Penokee catcher Tadan Niemi waits for a pass from the pitcher at a District 11 Little League Majors tournament Wednesday evening, July 12, 2017, at the Ishpeming Ballfield Complex. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

ISHPEMING — The Marquette All-Stars held on to an early lead to defeat Penokee Range 9-8 in the District 11 Little League Majors tournament Wednesday.

Marquette head coach Pat Taylor said all of his team pitched in to secure the victory.

“It was a good team win,” Taylor said. “We held in there and did a pretty good job. It showed our team’s heart.”

After Jacob Knauss scored to give Marquette a 1-0 lead in the second inning, his team blew the game open in the third, scoring seven runs.

Drew Dellies, Theo Adams, Jack Sides, Brock Taylor, Jacob Knauss, Liam Beerman and Matthew Johnson all crossed the plate in the third inning to give Marquette a commanding 8-0 advantage.

But Penokee wouldn’t go quietly. Its offense came alive in the top of the fourth, sending the entire lineup to the plate and scoring six runs to make it just a two-run game.

But the Marquette pitching staff of Johnson and Logan Peterson stood tall, and with a run tacked on by Sides in the bottom of the fourth, Marquette took control again.

Even though Penokee scored a pair of runs in the sixth inning, Marquette held it at bay to secure the win.

Taylor was proud of all of his kids in the win.

“We’ve been hitting the ball well all tournament,” Taylor said.

“The only thing we’ve been lacking is our depth with pitching.

“But our pitchers did a good job, and the team earned the win. It was all about their heart, and they showed they deserved it.”

Penokee head coach Ryan Niemi said despite the loss, he was proud of his team’s rebound to get themselves back in the game.

“We didn’t come out how I expected us to, but we fought until the end,” Niemi said.

“When you have 11 or 12-year-olds, no matter how much they are down, for some reason they just don’t care.

“You watch them, and even if they strike out or hit a home run, the emotion is still there. They played through every pitch until the end.”

The loss was the second for Penokee in the tournament, ending a season which Niemi said will be tough to let go of.

“I’m going to miss how much fun this group was,” Niemi said. “The kids getting together was a blast. They are from towns that are bred to not get along, but they got along like they’ve been brothers their whole lives.”

Marquette moves on to play Portage Lake in the championship game today at 6 p.m.

Taylor said his team knows what to expect in the title game.

“We’re going to have to play with heart,” Taylor said.

“We need to see our kids play their hardest. They’re playing a tough team, and hopefully we can pull this off.”

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