Badgers reach final
NORWAY – Niagara advanced the championship game of the Norway Lofholm’s Building Center/Peterson Electric Baseball Invitational Saturday at Marion Park, but fell short against Negaunee, 15-5 in six innings.
Hunter Kaldor, starting on one day of rest following a complete-game Thursday, was tagged for the loss. He gave up eight hits and three walks in an inning and a third. Jacob Bousley come on in relief, allowing eight more hits and three walks.
The Miners jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning. They added three more in the second. Niagara pulled to within three with a four-run second to make it 8-5, but that’s as close as they would get. Grant Johnson, in relief of starter Tyler LaJoie, allowed just one hit over the final 4 1/3 innings.
LaJoie led Negaunee at the plate with a 4-for-4 game including a triple. Johnson was 2-for-4 with two doubles.
The Badgers were led by Dillon Neuens, Ethan Blagec and Bousley with singles. Kaldor had a triple.
The Badgers advanced to the final after a thrilling 8-7 win over tournament host Norway.
Kaldor delivered the game’s deciding blow with a single to deep center to drive in Vincent Bezold with the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth.
The Knights opened the scoring four-run first inning. Austin Grayvold got things going with a leadoff home run. Bryce Plante added a run-scoring double in the frame.
Niagara got one back in the bottom half when Kaldor doubled in Neuens, who had reached via a walk. A four-run third put the Badgers up 5-4. A bases-loaded single by Blagec scored two runs. Bousley added an RBI with a groundout.
Norway responded with three in the fourth. Grayvold singled to lead off and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of John Edwardsen. Bryce Grayvold later doubled in Mike Faull and Jake Rehn.
The Badgers entered the final inning down 7-5. A lead-off single by Dillon Lantagne, a walk to Bezold followed by a wild pitch gave the Badgers runners at second and third with no outs. Edwardsen struck out the next two Badgers, leaving Niagara down to its final out.
A passed ball scored Lantagne to tie the game 7-7. Neuens then reached on a dropped third strike. He stole second, leaving first base open. Norway elected to pitch to Kaldor, and he crushed a ball to deep center to end the game.
The Badgers were led by Neuens who was 1-for-2 with two walks and three runs. Kaldor was 4-for-4 with three doubles and two RBIs.
Blagec got the complete-game win for the Badgers giving up five hits, four walks while striking out nine. Edwardsen shouldered the loss, going the whole game for the Knights and giving up seven hits, four walks while striking out 11.
“I was proud of our kids,” Niagara head coach Dean Neveau said. “To be down 4-1 after the first inning and not hang our heads. We had two starters that we were missing today. To have a freshman Ethan Blagec on the mound and keep his composure was good to see. He got into trouble couple innings and managed to get himself out of it.”
The Knights were led by Austin Grayvold who was 2-for-4 with two runs and Bryce Grayvold who was 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
“Congrats to Niagara on hanging around fighting to the end,” Norway coach Tony Adams said. “We had chances to blow the game open on offense and had too many poor at-bats. Defensively, we did just about everything wrong that we could in the final two innings. We are not good enough to give a team five or six outs an inning.”
Norway went on to defeat North Central 15-5 in the consolation game.
North Central, with Seth Polfus, Allan Kleiman and Devin Wodraska all walking, took a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the Knights answered with five runs in their half of the first and never trailed again.
Justin Bal drove in two with his first career hit. Fellow freshman Dane VanDenHeuvel was 4-for-4 in the game and played solid behind the plate.
“We continue to walk way too many batters,” Adams said “That has to get cleaned up quickly. But I did like how we responded. The kids didn’t hang their heads for long and played better.”
Polfus hit a double for North Central.
In the tournament opener, Negaunee earned a 10-1 win over the Jets. For the Miners, LaJoie was 3-for-3 with a double and a walk and Chad Larson went 2-for-2 with a double and walk to back Luke Hill on the mound, who allowed just two Jets’ hits.
Polfus and Zach Estrada singled for North Central. Dawson Bilski took the loss on the hill.
All tournament selections follow:
Hitter – Chad Larson (NEG)
Pitcher – Grant Johnson (NEG)
All tournament team
Dawson Bilski (NC), Bob Kleiman (NC), Austin Grayvold (NOR), John Edwardsen (NOR), Dane VanDenHeuvel (NOR), Hunter Kaldor (NIA), Ethen Blagec (NIA), Dillon Neuens (NIA), Patrick Moreau (NIA), Eric Lori (NEG), Luke Hill (NEG), Chad Larson (NEG), Tyler LaJoie (NEG), Hunter Ridley (NEG).