IM, Norway win major openers

IRON MOUNTAIN – CJ Bolo and Foster Wonders blasted home runs, and Eli Lofholm delivered a tie-breaking single as Iron Mountain North advanced to a Little League major baseball district final with an 8-3 win over Gladstone Friday night at Larry Barkle Eastside Field.

Iron Mountain, the only unbeaten team left in the tournament, awaits the winner of a Norway/Gladstone matchup taking place this evening at 6 p.m. The tournament final is set for Sunday evening at 6 p.m. If necessary, a second final will be played Monday.

Norway avoided elimination with an 11-0, four-inning thrashing of Munising in Friday’s first game.

Iron Mountain and Gladstone were scoreless through two innings before Bolo sent a deep drive over the fence in left center field to lead off the top of the third inning. Marcus Johnson drew a walk in the next at-bat, and Wonders followed with a towering shot to right that clanked off the top of a parked pick-up truck.

That would be the last pitch to hit that Wonders would see in the game, as Gladstone intentionally walked him in his final two plate appearances.

Iron Mountain’s 3-0 lead didn’t last long though, as Gladstone pecked away in the bottom of the third.

Ean Terrien led off and reached on a drag bunt down the first base line. Zach Hanson singled to the hole at shortstop, and Cole Hansen punched a two-out, two run single through the right side. Another run came in on a passed ball to tie the game 3-3.

Iron Mountain was far from done, however, striking for three more runs in the fourth.

Pinch-hitter Sonny Tolenen opened the inning with a line-drive single to left. Lofholm came up next and laced a low liner off the bag at third and into foul territory in left field to score Tolenen with the go-ahead run.

A single through the hole on the left side of the infield by Johnson and an intentional pass to Wonders then set the table for Caleb Johnson, who lifted a deep fly down the line in left. Gladstone’s Peyton Fedell made a spectacular diving grab on the line, but he couldn’t get back to his feet in time to stop the tagging runners, and they both raced in for runs.

Iron Mountain padded its lead in the top of the sixth. Another intentional walk to Wonders came back to bite Gladstone when Caleb Johnson shot a ball past the third baseman for a run. Gio Basanese brought picked up Johnson from third with a hit to right field.

Bolo went the distance for IM North on the hill, allowing five hits while fanning 12 batters. He didn’t issue a single walk.

Gladstone wound up using four pitchers. Justin Malmsteed, Ian Swalbach, Hanson and Drake Forrest gave up seven hits and seven walks, striking out five.

In Friday’s first game, Norway jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first and scored three more times in both the second and fourth innings to mercy Munising.

Noah Gorzinski led the way at the plate with a home run and two doubles. Parker Lasater and Matt Grayson added doubles. Payton Thompson, Hunter McCarthy and Kody Hendricks each poked two singles as part of Norway’s 14-hit assault.

Laster, Hendricks and McCarthy shared the mound duties, checking Munising to five hits while striking out six and walking none.