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State champs

Kingsford beats Hudson 16-14 for American Legion Class A state title

August 6, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - For The Daily News , The Daily News

MARQUETTE - The elements and circumstances conspired against pitchers on the final day of the American Legion state baseball tournament being held in Marquette.

And the hitters took advantage as Kingsford outslugged defending champion Hudson, 16-14, in the title game Saturday afternoon to capture the Class A crown at Gerard Haley Memorial Field.

In the morning, Hudson advanced to the finale by whipping Menominee, 21-5, in a mercy rule-shortened seven innings.

Article Photos

D. Roy Carollo Photos
Kingsford Blues celebrate winning the American Legion baseball Class A state championship Saturday in Marquette. The Blues scored twice in the ninth inning, one from Cole Tengesdahl (below left), to edge Hudson 16-14.

During the championship game, the wind variously whipped from right to left field and at other times blew straight out to centerfield.

And the hitters were already getting some help from depleted pitching staffs on the tournament's third day, working with innings restrictions for those young arms particularly on the part of Hudson, a team that traveled about eight hours north from near the Ohio border.

While Kingsford (31-19) only had to play three games over three days, Hudson (24-20) had five with doubleheaders Thursday and Saturday.

"If we'd have gotten to (today), we were looking good," Hudson manager Jeremy Beal said about the "if necessary" game that would have been needed if Kingsford lost Saturday.

Instead, Kingsford got out to a fast start against Hudson on Saturday, scoring six runs before the second out was made in the top of the first inning. Four errors combined with four hits and two walks gave little defensive support to Hudson starter Mike Connant.

Both managers knew it wouldn't end there, however.

"They have a good team, and with the wind blowing out, I said to my guys, 'Don't get too comfortable,'" Kingsford manager Kevin Murdock said.

"I knew we still had nine at-bats (innings) left, so I wasn't getting too excited then," Beal added.

And they were right. Hudson chipped away to take its only lead, 10-9, in the fourth after hitter A.J. Thomson hit a two-run single and later scored on an error.

Kingsford answered with three runs in the top of the fifth on just one hit, an RBI single by Austin Murdock, two errors and two walks.

The Blues' firepower proved too much for Hudson as they went back up 14-10. Kingsford's Bryce Kerscher in the third and Cole Tengesdahl in the sixth cracked two-run homers, each estimated at 375 feet.

Hudson still didn't give up, scratching back to tie it 14-14 in the seventh following two-run singles by Bryce Steward and Thomson.

The Lower Peninsula team then had first crack at breaking the tie, loading the bases with two out in the eighth, only to strand them when winning pitcher - and tournament most valuable player - Kyle Sexton induced Alex Simmons to hit a pop-up for an out.

"I thought if we got a couple of those guys in, that would've sealed it up for us," Beal said.

Kingsford pushed the game's final two runs across in the top of the ninth as Tengesdahl and Sexton singled.

Jake Hubbard led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk to bring up Thomson, who finished as the game's leading hitter - 5 for 6 with five RBIs.

But it was his only hitless at-bat of the game that proved key, as he grounded to shortstop C.J. Qualley, who tossed it to second baseman Dustin Neuens and completed the double play with a throw to first baseman Ian Wienke to empty the bases.

Cullan Wilkerson followed with a routine grounder to third baseman Matt Wiitanen, who made a solid throw to first to clinch the state championship.

Tengesdahl finished 3 for 3 with a double, two walks, three RBIs, five runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. Qualley, Wienke, Kerscher and Murdock each had two hits.

Hubbard, Steward, Wilkerson, Caleb Gulledge and Drew Milligan had two hits for Hudson as Cody Nelson pitched the final seven innings and took the loss.

In Saturday's early game, Hudson scored eight runs in the top of the first, culminated

(Continued on page 2-B)



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