Three champs win by one run
No less than half of the championships were decided by one run.
In the Pee Wee Division (7-9), Empire’s baseball team scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 6-5 victory over Lake Leelanau.
“It was an exciting game. It’s always tough to lose the last game, but only one team doesn’t,” said Jim Robertson, Lake Leelanau’s coach. “Our kids had a complete ball all year.”
In the Middle Girls League, Cedar’s girls softball team edged Suttons Bay, 2-1.
“I know that my team is all smiles since the win.”
“The championship game ended up being a fantastic game,” Suttons Bay coach Doug Periard said. “It was a great game to coach and both teams played well.”
And in the Ponies finale, Leland lost a heart-breaker, 13-12 in eight innings, to Frankfort. Leland, which finished 8-3 with all its losses to Leelanau takes aim at an Empire batter in second inning action in the Pee Wee League championship game Saturday at Suttons Bay. Frankfort, had scored twice in the top of the eighth.
“It could have gone either way,” Leland coach Dan Bardenhagen said. “It came down to a couple of missed pop flies and grounders.
In other County playoffs, Lake Leelanau mercied Cedar, 23-6 in five innings to claim the Senior Girls title, Maple City routed Suttons Bay 1 in Junior Girls (7-9), 18-6 in six innings and Leland defeated Empire in Colts action, 7-5.
The Pee Wee final proved to be a defensive battle.
“There was a lot of good defense,” said Robertson, citing the play of Empire’s shortstop who made several “beautiful” catches.
Lake Leelanau, which went undefeated in regular season play, took a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning.
But with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the inning, Empire struck back.
Henry Lerchen tripled and scored on Andrew Nadlicki’s RBI single. Dominic Willham moved Nadlicki to third with a single and Brody Allen delivered the game-winner with a single.
“Everyone hit well,” said Empire coach Heidi Barber after her team finished at 11-2 overall. “Our kids played great and we (Coach Todd Ciolek) and I are very proud of our players and how they played together as a team.”
Wyatt Danilowicz had two hits for Lake Leelanau. Ian Robertson, 7, pitched a scoreless second inning.
“It was very good symmetry to end the year,” Robertson said. “ We won the regular season going undefeated and they finished second. And then they won the tournament, and we finished second in the regular season.
“Both teams had kids with the chance to be champions!”
Cedar, which had eight 10-yearolds, one 11 and three 12s, were also champs on different levels last season. The 10s were Junior champs and the older girls were defending Middle League champs.
“These girls had high expectations set at the beginning of the season,” Zywicki said. “But our final game was a fight to the finish.”
Zywicki credited her pitching staff for the win — Emily Ascherman and Kelly Bunek.
“Allowing one run at this age is a great accomplishment in itself this late in the season,” said Zywicki after her team finished the year with an 8-2-1 record. “They came out firing strikes and continued all the way through.”
Suttons Bay scored on a home run. Cedar scored on a couple walks and hits.
Lake Leeanau, which went undefeated, had its hitting shoes on in the Senior Girls finale.
“We had some amazing stats for one game from some amazing girls,” LL coach Roger Schaub said.
Marta Herman had four hits, 3 RBIs and four runs scored. Megan Popp had three hits, including two doubles and 5 RBIs.
Popp got the mound win, working the first four innings.
Cedar rallied from a 4-0 deficit with all six of its runs in the bottom half.
“Megan settled down and pitched three great innings and our defense did not allow a run after the first inning and then our bats got hot,” Schaub said.
Maple City coach Patrick Middleton said winning the Junior Girls was expected.
“We had some older kids who will be moving,” said Middleton, including winning pitcher Reagan Middleton, his daughter, and Jillian Gardner, Aubree Rice, Grace Fosmore, Kayla Ervin and Maddy Blough.
“My girls played to the highest level all season long,” Middleton said. “They hit, ran the bases and caught the ball.
“It was everything you’d ever dream of.”
In Colts play, Leland coach Curt Richter gave credit where it was due.
“It was Brad Peterson and the boys,” said Richter, noting it was Quinn Maleski’s walk-off homer in the previous playoff game that got the Leland team in the finals.
The final was a little bit of revenge for Leland, which finished the year at 9-1. The lone loss was to Empire.
“We were both undefeated when we played earlier,” Richter said. “And at that time, they beat us.
“So it was nice to come back and take revenge.
“Both team’s coaches and players are good friends and it was a friendly, but competive game.”