By RON DEUTER
NORWAY – Iron Mountain’s all-stars rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth, scoring the winning run on a wild pitch, to shock Norway’s all-stars 5-4 Sunday evening in Little League major (age 11-12) District 10 baseball at Marion Park.
Iron Mountain advances to Gladstone for the district finals, beginning play Friday against the zero-loss team from the Gladstone bracket.
Norway and Kingsford will battle tonight in Norway at 6 p.m. in an elimination contest, with the winner also moving on to play Friday at Gladstone.
In the thrilling final inning for Iron Mountain against Norway, Caleb Johnson poked a two-run single down the left field line to tie the game 4-4. Johnson later moved from second to third thanks to a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Zach Spera. And then a pitch in the dirt that rolled to the backstop allowed Johnson to charge home.
Johnson initially slid short of the plate, but with Norway pitcher Landen Kaldor unable to get the ball, Johnson was able to get to a knee, reach his arm over Kaldor’s stretched legs and tap his hand on the dish -setting off a wild celebration out in front of the Iron Mountain dugout.
Kaldor gave Norway a 2-0 lead in the third when he yanked a pitch over the fence in center. The advantage went to 3-0 an inning later when Carter Holle doubled in another run.
Iron Mountain got two of those back in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-run single by Nick Opolka.
A bases-loaded walk to Anthony Hansen plated another Norway run in the fifth.
Tyler Beauchamp started for Iron Mountain, exiting with one out in the sixth after reaching his pitch limit. Beauchamp fanned six and allowed six hits. Foster Wonders completed the sixth for IM, striking out two more and allowing one hit.
Hunter Riley went into the fifth for Norway before hitting his pitch count. He struck out six and allowed just hits before leaving with the lead. Trey Doda got out of the fifth for Norway, but walked two in the sixth. Kaldor threw just the one pitch in the sixth.
Iron Mountain played long ball in its Saturday contest, a 17-0 win over Iron County’s all-stars. Beauchamp cranked two homers, and started a back-to-back-to-back outburst in the fourth as C.J. Bolo and Wonders followed Beauchamp with shots of their own. Wonders, Bolo and Johnson combined for the one-hit shutout win, whiffing 10 batters.
Norway opened tournament play with a 13-3 win over Kingsford, hitting four bombs in the contest. Ben Snyder, Dalton Hanchek, Payton Thompson and Trevor Anderson all belted home runs, while Hansen, Riley and Doda worked a two-hitter in the win.
Kingsford hammered away early in its elimination contest Sunday against Iron County, scoring six runs in the first in an 11-1 victory. Nick McCole, Daunte Fortner and Noah Wilcox allowed just one Iron County hit while striking out five. Fortner hit a homer in the game along with a double. McCole smacked a triple and single. Luke Terrian had two singles. Hunter Lindeman hit a double, and Brett Hicks added a triple.
Tonight’s winner between Kingsford and Norway will play at 3 p.m. Friday against the one-loss team from the Gladstone bracket, with Iron Mountain’s game to follow.
Tonight in the Gladstone bracket, Gladstone takes on Schaffer in an elimination game, followed by Tri-County against Munising in a winner’s bracket game.