West End packs a wallop

Junior Little Leaguers mercy-rule Marquette to stay undefeated in District 11 tournament

Above, West End’s Joe Mallet prepares to pitch to a Marquette batter during the District 11 Juniors tournament Saturday evening in Marquette. Right, Marquette’s Jordan Demay runs for first base. (Journal photos by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — In District 11 Juniors Little League tournament action Saturday evening, West End mercyed Marquette 11-1 in five innings to inch closer to a title.

West End head coach E.J. Kostreva said his team showed up ready to play.

“I’m very proud of our guys,” Kostreva said.

“I wasn’t sure how we were going to do heading in. We know Marquette is a good team and we struggled against them in the regular season, but a lot of things were going our way today.

“Our defense was great and we just kept hitting the ball. Everyone was fired up the whole time.”

Marquette head coach Shane Cromell said his team committed too many self-inflicted wounds to compete in the game.

“They outplayed us, offense and defense,” Cromell said.

“We had too many errors and it was hard for us to get anything going on either side of the ball.”

West End had a dominant second inning to jump out to a double-digit lead, starting with a double by Joe Mallet to bring home Jayden Grobar.

Three batters later and with the bases loaded, Luke Kostreva stepped to the plate and hit a liner down the left field line to bring in three more runs, making it 4-0.

Will Luke followed up on the next at bat with another double down the same line to score Kostreva.

Tyler Labbreche, Grobar and Trey Gee would all step to the plate and earn hits with two RBI with each hit to help pad West End’s big lead.

Coach Kostreva said his team’s at bat approach thrived in the second inning.

“The way I teach them batting is to get them to catch it as soon as it gets to the plate,” he said. “We were aggressive with our cuts and get into the counts early. Right now, they’re listening and it’s paying off.”

Mallet pitched lights out for West End before getting replaced by Garett Mann in the fourth, who then closed out the game

Four of West End’s runs came off errors by Marquette’s defense, adding extra bases to the hits from the West End batters.

Cromell said his team didn’t show all of its capabilities.

“We knew they’re an elite team and we’d have to play our best,” Cromell said. “We’re a better team than how we played, but we didn’t do nearly enough.”

The loss was Marquette’s first in the double-elimination tournament, and it will be in action today at 5 p.m. against an opponent determined by other results.

West End, who has yet to suffer a loss, will play Monday at 6 p.m.

Coach Kostreva said his team needs to keep giving Saturday’s effort to end the tournament on top.

“We are going to take it one game at a time,” he said. “That’s how we do it in tournament play. We have to face every day new and not overlook our next opponent. We have to bring high energy and focus each and every game, and if we do that we are going to keep winning.”

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