Dominant from start to finish
MC Mavericks crush Channing to win back-to-back Superiorland titles
CHANNING — Following semifinal games with scores of 8-5 and 10-7, the Superiorland Baseball League was set for a good battle in its playoff championship matchup of the league’s two best teams, the Marquette County Mavericks and the Channing Railroaders.
The late afternoon game on Saturday in the small town of Channing turned out to be anything but intriguing, unless you wanted to see how badly the runner-up Mavericks would pummel the regular-season champs playing at home.
As it ended up, the MCM pulled off a 16-0 victory that due to no mercy rule in effect, went the entire seven innings.
“We just happened to play our best game of the year,” Mavericks’ player-manager James Larsen II said. “The score wasn’t an indication of how these teams compare to each other.”
This marked the Mavericks’ second league playoff title in the two years of the league’s existence. Five teams from Marquette County plus the Dickinson County-based Railroaders made up the league this season.
The Mavs’ title-clinching performance all began with pitching and defense, the first provided by the Mavs’ Steve Hintsala in his complete-game shutout and the second by the team behind him in nothing coming close to an error being committed.
“Steve pitched an excellent game from start to finish,” Larsen said. “He just found his groove.”
“It really helps to get a big lead,” Hintsala said, adding that his curveball is his best pitch.
“But I can change pitches, that’s probably my strength.
“And it’s a lot easier to throw with confidence when you have a really good defense behind you.”
The Mavericks’ offense gave Hintsala the early big lead he wanted, scoring five times in the second inning and four more in third for a 10-0 lead.
Catcher Spencer Larson, who Hintsala particularly cites for his defensive capabilities, batted cleanup and hit two doubles before the second inning was over, knocking in three runs.
Larson made an out in the third inning, but other teammates collected five singles in six at-bats to turn the game into a rout.
Several Channing errors made for six unearned runs in the first three innings, too.
Larson finished 4 for 5 with four RBIs, while Tyler Skufca was 3 for 4 with a double and fourth-inning solo homer that initially looked more like a pop-up that kept carrying and cleared the rightfield fence.
Teammate Sam Prentice took advantage of their heroics, scoring four runs despite just three official at-bats, collecting two hits, drawing two walks, stealing a base and knocking in a run.
Hintsala wasn’t perfect by any means, scattering nine hits and a single walk, but he stranded six Railroader runners in scoring position.
Channing had just nine players available for the game, though it didn’t slow them in a 10-7 win over the Negaunee Blasters in the semis.
The Mavericks had to stage a comeback in its semifinal before beating Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen 8-5.
CBCH scored four runs in the second off Skufca, the big blow a two-run double by Steve Daavettila, before the Mavs came back with two runs in the bottom of the second and six more in the third for an 8-4 lead.
Two hit batters brought in both second-inning runs, while Hunter Larson cracked a two-out grand slam over the right field fence in the third.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.