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Thursday June 21, 2018
ONE UP, ONE DOWN!! Esky Girls Beat Grandville

ST. CLAIR, Mich.---There have been many, many Little League softball battles over the years between District Nine and District Ten.

Back in the 90's, it was Gladstone and Georgetown. And more recently, Escanaba and Pinery Park....and Escanaba against Grandville. As the Major Softball (age 11-12) state tournament began Friday afternoon in St. Clair, it was Escanaba and Grandville again.

It proved to be a typcial, down-to-the-wire rollar coaster between these two prograns, and this time, Escanaba came through with a 9-6 victory in the first pool play game of the tournament.

But the game had a lot of twists and turns...and an extra inning to play.

Escanaba jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first two innings, with two of them coming on the same play when the Grandville defense botched two rundown plays between third base and home plate. The third run in the second inning was also an unearned run.

In the bottom of the third inning, Grandville scored on an RBI single by Kylee Devries, but Escanaba got the run back in the top of the of the fourth inning on a bunt single by Carley McInerney. The 4-1 lead seemed to be relatively safe at that point, but it wasn't.

Escanaba pitcher Mckayla Mott had problems hitting her spots, often working behind in the count. And the change-up wasn't as effective as it usually is, and Grandville took advantage. They had four hits in that fourth inning (two of them on the infield), and Devries got her second RBI single of the game. Two other runs scored on passed balls.

All of a sudden, Escanaba trailed, 5-4.

In the fifth inning, Mott led off with a double and scored all the way from second base on a ground out when the Grandville girls were tentative on where to throw the ball.

But in the bottom of the fifth, Grandville regained the lead when Kelly Remenap bunted home Joslyn Vanderhart, who had singled.

In the sixth inning, Escanaba was down to its final out before Mott smoked one to the right field fence, scoring Carney Salo, who led off the inning with a single.

Grandville had a chance to win it in the bottom of the sixth when Mott walked McKenna Ferguson to start the inning. With Ferguson on second and two outs, Mott had a long battle with Devries. This time, Mott won the war, with Devries popping up.

That sent the game to extra innings, and Grandville elected to pull Ferguson from the pitcher's circle. That keeps her eligible to pitch on Saturday. But Escanaba took advantage against reliever Karsen Balmer with three runs in the seventh inning.

Aubrey Stropich got things started by beating out an infield single. She was forced out at second base on an Abby Hill grounder, and then Maddy Fulsher drew a walk.

With two on, Anna Bouttilier was asked to bunt. She couldn't get it down.

So, option #2: swing away. And option #2 workedm as Bouttilier smacked one up the middle to drive home the go-ahead run.

McInerney followed with a ground ball that handcuffed the Grandville second baseman for an RBI hit, and a third run came home on a wild pitch.

Mott retired Grandville 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning to end the war.

Escanaba faces the District 12 champions from White Lake at 9:30 Saturday morning. The game will be broadcast live on RRN only, at 9:30 a.m. The radio broadcast is set for 4:00 Saturday afternoon on NewsTalk 600 AM, after a pair of 9-10 boys district tournament games are broadcast from Dickson Field.

Click the thumbnails in the ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS box above to see photos and videos taken by Caron Salo, listen to radio replays, and hear post-game interviews with Milkiewicz, Mott, and Bouttilier.

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