Iron Mountain nips Negaunee for MHSAA Division 3 district tournament baseball championship

Negaunee’s Mason Banfield is too late with the tag to get out a Hancock runner during their MHSAA Division 3 district tournament game played at the Miners’ field in Negaunee on Saturday. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

NEGAUNEE — Iron Mountain emerged as champion of the MHSAA Division 3 district baseball tournament held in Negaunee on Saturday afternoon.

The Mountaineers clinched the title with a 4-1 victory over Negaunee in the championship game.

In semifinals held earlier Saturday, the host Miners downed Hancock 13-2 while IM edged Calumet 3-1. The Copper Kings had made it to Saturday by blanking Westwood 11-0 last Tuesday in the tourney’s only first round or “predistrict” game.

The Mountaineers advance to a Division 3 regional and play Gladstone at the Braves’ field at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Gladstone advanced out of a district that also included Superior Central, Newberry and Manistique. The Braves defeated Menominee 13-3 last Tuesday, Manistique 15-3 early Saturday and SC 11-1 in the district final to end Saturday.

Iron Mountain’s Niko Burgoon swings at a pitch in the MHSAA Division 3 district championshp game against Negaunee at the Miners field on Saturday. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

Here is a roundup of the Negaunee district games involving the Miners:


Negaunee 13, Hancock 2

On Saturday morning, the Miners jumped out right away with a two-run home run hit by Eli VanBuren in the top of the first inning that also brought teammate Howard Johnson home.

Hancock answered by putting two men aboard and moving them up and across to tie the score 2-2.

The Iron Mountain baseball teams poses with their tournament championship trophy after defeating Negaunee 4-1 on Saturday to capture the MHSAA Division 3 district title. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

But it was all Negaunee after that. In the second, the Miners’ Matthew Peters doubled before another VanBuren hit another two-run homer. This feat of batting earned VanBuren a walk the next time he was up to bat.

“Two (home runs). Eli VanBuren hit both … he was pretty excited himself, it was good to see,” NHS head coach Jason Siik said. “And he’s worked really hard this year, so it was nice to see a payoff for him.”

With a three-run lead after two, Negaunee continued to pour it on with runs scored and knocked in by Peters, Johnson, Easton Palomaki and Mason Banfield that quickly made it 10-2 and eventually ended the game after five innings due to the 10-run rule.

“Feelin’ pretty good,” Siik said. “Our kids came ready … it was nice to see them hit the ball hard.

“This is probably one of the better groups of kids I’ve ever had on a baseball team where they all get along really well and they all care for each other and the guys that don’t get a ton of playing time are just as involved.”


Iron Mountain 4, Negaunee 1

At midafternoon Saturday, the championship game proved to be much more a defensive battle.

IM broke the scoreless tie when Max White scored. His run would hold up for another three innings until the fifth.

That’s when the Mountaineers Carson McLean hit a triple and scored, while Evan Haferkorn and Ian Marttila got a couple more in.

Van Buren insured the Miners wouldn’t be shut out, but it wasn’t nearly enough to catch IM.

“Iron Mountain played really well, they’re well coached and they did a nice job,” Siik said. “I think our situational hitting needs to be a bit better. That’ll be our prime focus in the offseason now.

“We struggled at times … but the kids played well,” IM manager Jeff McLean said. “Our two pitchers today, the first game against Calumet, Carson McLean struck out 13 batters (and) gave up three hits, then Niko Burgoon went here in the final … he struck out 10 batters, gave up a couple hits. Just outstanding.

“We were having a really rough year, we were 2-15 coming into this, but the kids just kept grinding and we kept telling them it’s all about June … when districts come. It’s exciting to see the seniors get a district championship in their final season here, so yeah, we’re super stoked.”

Alexandria Bournonville can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 506. Her email address is abournonville@miningjournal.net.


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