Norway pounds away in sectional
By RON DEUTER
NORWAY – Norway’s Little League junior all-stars cruised to a sectional championship Sunday afternoon at Marion Park, ripping Petoskey 15-4 in five innings.
Advancing to the state tournament in Rochester Hills later this week, Norway bashed its way through a three-game sectional with 39 total runs, ending two of those games early via the 10-run mercy rule.
“The boys came to hit the baseball,” Norway manager Jim Bal said. “They hit it. They hit it hard. It was a great team effort.”
Seven runs in both the third and fourth innings quickly pushed Sunday’s contest out of reach for the downstate visitors.
Joe Murvich, only retired twice the entire tournament, started the third inning scoring by banging a double off the right field fence for two RBIs. Hunter Kaldor then drove Murvich home with a deep double to left.
Kevin Evosevich, totaling five RBIs in the game, singled in two more, and Bobby Kleiman drove in another with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to deep left field – a shot that for a moment appeared destined for beyond the fence.
In the fourth, Evosevich cleared the bases with a double to left. Micha Wilson beat out a bunt to bring home another run, and Kleiman added a run-scoring single.
Norway’s double-digit walk total included 11 in the third and fourth innings alone. Connor Ortman brought in a Norway run by drawing a walk with the bags full in the big third inning.
Kaldor earned the win on the mound, working four complete before giving way to Kleiman in the fifth. Kaldor allowed just three hits with no earned runs. He struck out two, walked three and hit one batter.
Back-to-back errors to open the fourth allowed Petoskey to push three runs across, Peter Fila hitting a two-out, two-run double for the big blow.
Petoskey used four pitchers in the game.
“We started out a little slow (in the tournament) against Portage Lake,” Bal said. “But, as you can see, we’re interchangeable. We’ve got kids who can play different positions. We turned a few double plays, had some other great defensive plays, and our pitching is very strong.”
Norway thumped Portage Lake 14-5 in the junior opener Friday and continued to roll Saturday with a 10-0 shutout of Petoskey in five innings.
Norway’s Ethan Blagec needed just 48 pitches, allowing one hit and whiffing four, to dispatch Petoskey.
Kleiman led off with a home run and Norway’s attack took off from there. Kleiman, Murvich (double) and Cody Carlson each stroked two hits in the game. Dane VandenHuevel and Blagec contributed doubles.
Murvich, after the first two games of the tourney, notched eight hits (two triples, three doubles) in nine at-bats.
A five-run fifth inning carried Petoskey past Portage Lake 6-3 in the other junior game Saturday. Darren Nordstrom doubled and singled for Portage Lake.