UCT outscores FNB for LL title
By RON DEUTER
NORWAY – Iron Mountain UCT scored 11 runs over its final two at-bats to overtake and then barely held off Kingsford FNB 15-13 in a wild, back-and-forth championship of the Curtis J. Brackett Memorial Little League major baseball tournament Friday evening at Marion Park.
UCT, with one loss on the season, trailed 8-4 through 3 1/2 innings before plating five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Brandon Proudfit smoked a bases-loaded triple to left to tie the game 8-8. He later came home on a delayed steal to give UCT the lead.
But FNB rallied for two runs in the fifth to re-take control. An intentional walk to Nick McCole backfired when Zack Wood drew a bases-loaded free pass in the next at-bat. Colin Watkins came up next and sent a chopper to shortstop that was mishandled and allowed another run to score.
The lead wouldn’t last long, as a six-run bottom of the fifth put UCT up for good. C.J. Bolo ripped a two-run double, Nick Saari brought in a run with a grounder, and Ryan Hakamaki singled in another during the rally.
One-out RBI singles by Brett Hicks and Noah Wilcox followed by a run-scoring groundout by McCole gave FNB one last chance in the sixth. But UCT second baseman Ian Anderson snagged a Watkins’ liner to end the rally and the game.
The teams traded the lead four times during the first three innings.
Blake Julian and Tyler Beauchamp had RBIs in the bottom of the first to answer FNB’s first strike. But FNB regained the edge thanks to a long, two-run home run to left center off the bat of Hicks in the second.
Two error-assisted runs in the third and a three-spot in the fourth put FNB up 8-4 before UCT staged its late-inning comeback.
Bolo, who gunned down a runner trying to score from second with a laser throw from center to home in the fifth, started for UCT. He went three innings and struck out seven before reaching his pitch limit.
Caleb Johnson worked into the sixth, striking out five more, to become the pitcher of record. Hakamaki recorded all three outs in the sixth.
McCole started for FNB, pitching three innings and fanning five. Hicks and Watkins went the rest of the way.
UCT earned its spot in Friday’s final by squeaking out a 1-0 victory over Hermansville in the day’s first contest. The game, restarted from scratch after Thursday’s game was rained out with UCT losing 2-0 after a half inning, was decided on a solo homer by Beauchamp in the fourth.
Beauchamp also earned the win on the mound, striking out 12 while allowing just one hit and two walks.
Proudfit added two singles for UCT in the win. Ian Gorzinski managed Hermansville’s lone hit.
Noah Gorzinski took the tough-luck loss, fanning five and walking none.
Hermansville did prevail in the consolation contest, topping Iron County VFW 6-3. Noah Gorzinski doubled and scored on a Carter Holle single as part of a three-run first. Holle drove in another with a grounder in the fourth.
Holle and Austin Paupore worked the hill for the win. Brayden Pellizzer and Peyton Williams pitched for Iron County.
Bryant Schram tripled and scored on a single by Williams for Iron County’s first run. A double by Pellizzer followed by a Schram single helped score another in the third.