Kingsford tunes up for Legion baseball U.P. zone tournament

By John Vrancic

For The Daily News

ESCANABA – A change of plans worked out favorably for the Escanaba Cubs Saturday as they posted a 10-3 American Legion baseball triumph over the Kingsford Blues at Al Ness Field.

The teams were scheduled for a doubleheader, then agreed to play a single nine-inning contest on game day.

“This enabled us to save some arms,” said Esky manager Tom Ohman. “It was nice to put up 10 runs against a good ball club. We told the kids if they made an error, it just meant they had re-focus and play harder. We’ve struggled all season. We needed to see some light at the end of the tunnel and the kids responded.”

The Cubs (8-15) resume Wednesday at 12 p.m. (Central time) against Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula Zone tournament at Menominee. The winner faces the host Red Wave at 6.

Kingsford (15-13) meets Marquette Blue in its zone opener on Wednesday.

Esky used six pitchers Saturday and Kingsford sent four to the mound.

“I think this is what everybody needed with the zone tournament right around the corner,” said Kingsford manager Kevin Murdock. “Playing just the one nine-inning game also helped us save on arms.”

The Blues led 3-0 after three innings.

Esky then trimmed its deficit to two runs on Andrew Sedlar’s single in the fourth.

The Cubs, taking advantage of two walks and two hit batsmen, scored four times for a 5-3 lead in the fifth and finished the scoring with five runs in the sixth.

“We had too many errors in the fifth and sixth inning,” said Murdock. “We had guys playing out of position, but you still have to make the plays.”

Brandon Punzel and Bailey Lamb, who led off the fourth with a double, had two hits each for Esky.

“We hit the ball well today and last night (in Friday’s 10-4 loss to the Escanaba Polecats),” said Ohman. “The difference is we played better defense today.”

Punzel, the third Esky pitcher, took the win. Cole Michaud absorbed the loss.

“Brandon pitched two beautiful innings,” said Ohman.

Cole Tengesdahl was Kingsford’s leading hitter, going 3-for-3.

“Cole is on a mission,” said Murdock. “He’s a streak hitter. And when Cole gets on one of his streaks, he’s hard to stop.”