Little League baseball: Kingsford beats Esky for district crow

Kingsford's Bradlee Bottesi slides safely into second against Escanaba's Brody Ison on Tuesday during the Minor Boys' District 10 championship game in Escanaba. (Justin St. Ours/The Daily Press)

ESCANABA — It was nip and tuck for the Kingsford Minor Boys’ All-Star baseball team (ages 9-10) as it rallied in the final inning to overcome Escanaba 4-3 to clinch the Little League District 10 championship and move on to the state tournament.

Kingsford trailed 3-2 coming into the bottom of the sixth inning. Bradlee Bottesi singled on a ground ball to reach on a fielding error. Mason Koski also hit a ground ball and reached on a fumbled ball in the infield, and Bottesi and Koski made it to second and third on a passed ball. Carter Steber then ended it with a walkoff double to center field to score both runners and win the game.

Steber quickly realized his hit won the game.

“When I saw the ball go by, I was like, ‘yep that’s gone,'” he said. “It’s exciting.”

Escanaba took its biggest lead in the bottom of the second. A single down the third base line by Tim Robitaille put one on base. Two walks later, his pinch runner — Nick Martinson — scored on a passed ball. After drawing a walk and advancing on a passed ball, Joey Garcia scored on a wild pitch to increase Esky’s lead to 2-0.

“We knew after we won yesterday that Esky was in the same boat we were,” Kingsford manager Chris Steber said. “They were going to come with everything. They’re a good team, so we had to come focused and ready.”

Kingsford answered in the bottom of the second on two singles from Bottesi and Koski to put two on. Cooper Kreski then singled on a fly ball to score Bottesi and cut the deficit to 2-1.

In the bottom of the third, Kingsford tied it at 2 after Alex Hemgren singled on ground ball and advanced and scored on passed balls.

Escanaba then regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Alex Ison drew a walk, and Martinson singled on a fly ball to score him.

“It was a great game on both sides,” Escanaba manager Dan Garcia said. “It was fun to be a part of, that’s for sure. I’m just super proud of these guys right now. They’ve worked hard all summer long with us, but unfortunately, today wasn’t our day. Kingsford’s a good team, and I wish them luck downstate.”

Mikaiden Hughes took the loss for Escanaba over four innings. Joey Garcia pitched two in relief.

Jonah Doenier earned the win for Kingsford over 3 2/3 innings, and Koski pitched 2 1/3 in relief.

Kingsford moves on to the state tournament in Dexter Aug. 3.

“We’re just going to continue practices like we always do,” manager Steber said.

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