PL hit train goes to second championship game

L’ANSE – The train noisily sounding its horn on its way out of L’Anse was carrying logs, but the Portage Lake Minor (age 9-10) Little League squad brought the lumber to Friday’s District 11 championship game.

PL had 12 runs on 12 hits and forced a second title game today (4 p.m.) to conclude the double-elimination tournament, putting away Negaunee 12-2 in four innings.

“Today, I think everyone worked together and the hitting was all through our order,” PL manager Paul Horning said.

The only position in the Portage Lake order that didn’t yield a base hit was the clean-up spot, where catcher Austin Salani walked in all three plate appearances.

The first hit of the game, from Portage Lake’s Chad Nordstrom, may have set the tone: an opposite-field triple. Nordstrom scored on a wild pitch and PL turned one run into three with help from back-to-back singles by Dylan Horning and Emmitt Larson.

Negaunee responded with a pair of two-out runs in the top of the second in support of starter Preston Toutant. Bryce Storms singled and Luke Syrjala reached on an overthrow to start the rally. Keith Juidici added an RBI single.

From then on, PL was in control. Quinn Donnelly reached on a bunt single and scored in the second for a 4-2 lead.

In the third, Larson and Nick Horning had one-out hits, Jonah Horning walked and an error and a one-out fielder’s choice made it 6-2.

Six of PL’s first seven batters of the fourth inning reached and scored, with Caleb Bach’s RBI single driving in JD Sebbas with the run that will force a rubber match (Negaunee won 5-4 in a second-round winner’s bracket game on Sunday).

“I think the kids, they played positive. They were up on top and everyone was in a good mood. I think that has a lot to do with it,” Horning said.

Bach, Larson and Dylan Horning had pairs of hits in support of Nordstrom, who allowed two unearned runs on only one hit in four innings.