Blues rally, but fall in Legion zone opener

MENOMINEE – After Kingsford rallied for a tie in the bottom of the seventh, Marquette pushed across a single run in th eight to defeat the Blues 4-3 in Kingsford’s opening game of American Legion baseball U.P. Zone Tournament here Wednesday.

Kingsford, slipping to the loser’s bracker, was scheduled to face Ishpeming early this afternoon. The winner faced Channing later in the day.

“This put us in a hole that we will have to dig out of,” Kingsford manager Kevin Murdock said. “We need to win four games in two days to qualify for states. I believe we can, I just need the team to believe also.”

Marquette plated three runs in the first but nothing more until the eighth. Mike McCole went the whole game for Kingsford, allowing 11 hits while striking out four and walking one.

“I thought that Mike pitched very well,” Murdock said. “He did get the ball up in the first inning allowing four hits and three runs, but was very effective after that. He really settled in and pitched a good game.

“We had opportunities to score runs and we didn’t.”

Kingsford had just five hits in the game. CJ Qualley hit two singles. Cole Tengesdahl, Bryce Kerscher and Nick Sweig added the other hits. Kingsford drew four walks to help fuel its seventh-inning surge. The Blues had the winning run stranded at third in the frame.

Then came the top of the eighth. Ryan Hanson led off with a single, then McKinley Larson doubled to left field as Hanson slid wide of the plate to miss the tag by the Kingsford catcher, who dropped the ball and allowed Hanson to crawl back to touch the plate.

Larson was left on third base without scoring, but reliever Trevor Bratonia made the one run he was given stand up. He got Kingsford out 1-2-3, inducing a pair of groundouts before striking out the final batter to earn the win.

Larson started for Marquette, working into the seventh. He allowed six walks and struck out six.

“Five hits is not enough,” Murdock said. “Maybe we could tip our hats the pitcher, but we need to swing a better bat the rest of the tournament.”

Channing Railroaders opened with a 4-2 loss to Hancock.

Kingsford box and other scores from Wednesday follow:

Marquette300 000 01 – 4

Kingsford000 000 30 – 3

Gladstone 6, Eastern U.P. 4

Escanaba 5, Ishpeming 3

Hancock 4, Channing 2

Menominee 2, Escanaba 1 (8)