Watching and waiting: Ishpeming downs Negaunee 5-3 to reach Little League Majors baseball tournament championship

Negaunee’s Hank Tinknell, right, slides safely into home plate after Ishpeming catcher Tanner Annala bobbled a throw from first basemen Caden Luoma during their Little League baseball District 11 Majors tournament game played at Bernie Rivers Memorial Field in Negaunee on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

NEGAUNEE — The Ishpeming All-Stars earned a 5-3 win over Negaunee at Bernie Rivers Memorial Field on Tuesday night to punch its ticket to Thursday’s championship round in the Little League District 11 Majors baseball tournament.

Ishpeming’s pitching contingent combined to hold Negaunee to just five hits, while Ethan Corp led the winners’ charge on offense going 3 for 4 with two RBIs.

Ishpeming now awaits its opponent for the title round, which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday. Since Ishpeming will enter the finals undefeated while its opposition will have one loss in this double-elimination event, Ishpeming will get a second chance at 6 p.m. Friday to win the title if its loses Thursday.

Negaunee suffered its first loss and falls into the consolation bracket, facing Portage Lake today at 5 p.m. in a do-or-die situation for both teams. The game’s start was moved an hour earlier in hopes of avoiding rain expected to move into the area around that time.

In Tuesday’s other game at the Rivers Field, Portage Lake defeated Marquette 13-7 to keep its tourney hopes alive.

Corp is hopeful his Ishpeming team can win the championship. It’s all about preparation no matter who their next opponent is.

“I’m feeling really good and I hope we can get this ‘W’ in the next game,” he said. “We’re going to practice (today) and be ready for the next game.”

Asked about his big day at the plate and how he can keep his offensive momentum with a day off, Corp’s response was simple.

“Just keep swinging the bat,” he said.

Ishpeming manager Greg Maki also praised Corp for stepping up on offense, hoping the rest of his team can come through on Thursday as well.

“He’s my stud,” he said. “He’s had a really good season. I’m still waiting for the rest to come to the top and get us some hits, but it’s coming.”

Maki, with a sigh of relief, called the victory overwhelming, especially with the strong effort his team has put in to get this far.

“We’ve been working hard now for four weeks,” he said. “Offense isn’t quite kicking in yet, but our defense is kind of keeping us afloat here.

“Our pitching has been great. Coming into our final game, we have all of our pitchers available, so I’m feeling really good about our chances.”

Ishpeming used four pitchers Tuesday, with Tristen Miller earning the win. Miller fanned five Negaunee hitters over the first two innings without allowing a hit and walking two.

Carter Krook got the save going the final two innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out two.

For Negaunee manager Ron Yesney, the post-game message to his players was simple.

“We’ll see them again,” he said.

Yesney said that having confidence going into today’s elimination game is important.

“I think our guys are confident,” he said. “We lost that game by a couple of runs, and we’ll find ways to get those two runs. We’re confident. We’ll go in, we’ll play (today), hopefully play again on Thursday and wherever it falls, it falls.

“We’re not hanging our heads, we’re feeling good about our performance. They (Ishpeming) have a solid team, I appreciate the way they play, but we’re very confident.”

Yesney also credited his team’s effort, starting on the mound with Ty Jacobson, who allowed three unearned runs over four innings, striking out four and walking four in an 84-pitch outing.

“Eighty-four pitches and giving up three unearned runs, he was on his game and I’m really proud of him,” he said. “Hank Tincknell also pitched really well, we had some really good plays in the outfield, Roman Yuhas made a great play, Tristan Slater made a great play, Weston Yesney made a great throw, those guys were just awesome.

“I didn’t name a player of the game because we played really well as a team. There were some unearned runs that happened, and we’ll come back.”

Ishpeming’s first run was plated when Tanner Annala scored from second on an overthrow at first base.

Corp then brought Miller home with a double to center field, and Corp scored on another double to right from Jaxson Alderton to make it 3-0 after one inning.

Negaunee cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when Weston Yesney scored on a passed ball. Negaunee added another in the fourth when Tincknell came around to score to cut the home team’s advantage to one run.

Things stayed deadlocked until the last inning when Krook scored on an error and Miller was hit home by Corp for his second RBI of the game.

Now a 5-2 game and Negaunee down to its final three outs, Yuhas grounded out to shortstop for the second out of the inning, but earned an RBI as Tincknell came home to score.

Negaunee was unable to get any more runs, however, as Krook struck out Devin Jurmu to end it.

Tincknell went 1 2/3 innings on the mound for Negaunee, striking out two and walking two.

Ishpeming finished the game with eight hits. Alderton joined Corp in the multihit category, going 2 for 3.

Negaunee was led offensively by Slater going 2 for 2 and Tincknell was 2 for 3, while Yuhas collected two RBIs despite not getting a hit.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.