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First time’s a charm: Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen holds off late charge by Escanaba Polecats to win Superiorland Baseball title in first chance

Escanaba Polecats pitcher Elliott Danhoff delivers to the plate during the Superiorland Baseball League championship game played in Gwinn on Monday. Danhoff started and took the loss, though he also knocked in a run with a second-inning double. (Photo courtesy James Larsen II)

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Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen qualifies for U.P. Championship to be played in Gwinn vs. Superior National Bank-Stanton in September

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GWINN — It may not inspire a children’s storybook some day, but it was a great saga for the Superiorland Baseball League — the little No. 4 team that could.

Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen of Marquette County came back from a rough start to the season and captured the playoff championship of the five-team league with a 3-2 victory over No. 2 playoff seed Escanaba on Monday evening at the Forsyth Township Ball Field in Gwinn.

The game was as close — maybe closer — than the final score would indicate in both teams’ first appearance in the finals of the league’s fourth year. The Esky Polecats were a new entry to the league this season.

Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen won the playoff championship of the Superiorland Baseball League with a 3-2 win over the Escanaba Polecats after starting the tournament as the No. 4 seed in the five-team league. Kneeling from left are Steve Daavettila, Craig Storm, Paul Storm and Kirby Frantti. Standing from left are Johnny Daavettila, Gabe Daavettila, Gavin Locke, Kyle Storm and Jeremy Rae. (Photo courtesy James Larsen II)

Nursing a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh and final scheduled inning, CBCH made a pitching change and loaded the bases before protecting its advantage by the slimmest of margins.

Esky’s Carson Shea led off the seventh with a double, while Jared Dagenais singled to put two aboard. Following a pop-up out, Coldwell changed pitchers, replacing starter Gavin Locke with Gabe Daavettila.

An infield error brought Shea home, while a hit batsman loaded the bases with one out. But Daavettila proceeded to strike the final two Polecats’ batters out, the final out coming on a 3-2 count and the runners moving on the pitch.

With the championship game victory, Coldwell-Craig Heinonen also gets to represent the league in the annual Upper Peninsula Championship game against Superior National Bank-Stanton of the Copper Country’s Twilight League. That nine-inning game should be played in September, likely the weekend after Labor Day and back in Gwinn.

Earlier in Monday’s game, each team moved a runner to third base in the first inning without scoring. CBCH’s Craig Storm singled sharply, while Dagenais also singled and was thrown out at home plate.

Jay Daavettila of the Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen team pitches in a game against The 906 Bar & Grill on Aug. 7, 2017, at the Forsyth Township Ball Park in Gwinn. (Journal file photo)

Esky drew first blood in the second when Alex Morehouse scored on teammate and Polecats pitcher Elliot Danhoff’s double.

Coldwell-Craig Heinonen didn’t break through until the fifth, when five walks and a single brought three runs in, making the score 3-1 where it stayed until the final half inning.

With Locke getting the pitching win and Daavettila the save, Storm went 2 for 3 with a walk as their team managed just three hits while drawing eight walks. Danhoff suffered the loss, going 4 2/3 innings with Jared Crow going the last 2 1/3 as their batting teammates provided them with 10 hits.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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