Negaunee, MI – June 1, 2021 – The Negaunee Miners Baseball Team fell to the Iron Mountain Mountaineers 18-9. Travis Nelson had the call on Fox Sports Marquette 105.1 and 99.9.
Although Iron Mountain bested the Miners in the previous two match ups, Negaunee started the afternoon with an impressive first inning. The Miners’ fielding was effective, as the top three batters of the Mountaineers’ order were all grounded out. The Miners controlled the bottom of the inning as well. They got on base with ease and were able to get four runs across. An RBI single by Keith Juidici got things rolling for Negaunee. Later on, a 2RBI hit into right field by Brenten Belanger scored two more, and Nico Lukkarinen stole home to give the Miners a commanding 4-0 lead.
Despite the Miners opening the game strong, the Mountaineers made adjustments and had some success in the second. The first pitch of the inning was a solo home run by Iron Mountain’s Jurgan Kleiman, and his team would build on this much-needed hit. After another base hit followed by a sacrifice fly cut the lead to two. However, the Mountaineers left two runners stranded in scoring position, so they were unable to tie the game. The Miners didn’t have much success on offense, but Gerald Johnson would increase their advantage by getting walked and stealing every base, including home, on wild pitches. The Miners led 5-2 after the second.
Both teams’ defense put on a clinic in the third. For the Miners, Eli VanBuren made an incredible catch in right field to prevent the Mountaineers from getting in scoring position. On the other side, Iron Mountain pitcher Blake Julian struck out the side. Nonetheless, Negaunee still led 5-2.
Iron Mountain’s batters would completely shift momentum in the top of the fourth. Five runners scored this inning, and they got their first lead of the game 7-5 to make this a whole new ball game. The Miners didn’t seem too bothered when it was their turn at the plate. A couple walks and a crucial double by Howard Johnson allowed VanBuren to steal home and get Negaunee back to within one. Although Negaunee got one more run on the board, it was another great inning for Julian, who retired the side with strikeouts again. This would be his last inning on the mound, and he recorded an incredible eight strikeouts for the day. Iron Mountain led 7-6.
The Miners’ defense kept them in the game. Negaunee only allowed one rune in the top of the fifth. Now, it was up to the batters to answer the Iron Mountain comeback. In the bottom of the inning, the Miners got another run across on a sacrifice grounder to get back to within one, but they couldn’t tie the game. The stage was set for an exciting final inning. Iron Mountain held on to an 8-7 lead.
Iron Mountain tried to get an insurance run in the top of the sixth to get some breathing room. They would get it, as well as nine others. The pitches must have looked like a beach ball, as Iron Mountain went up 18-7. Fourteen batters recorded a whopping nine hits before the Miners could finally retire the side. A Negaunee comeback would have been one for the ages, and they made a solid effort. The Miners batted in two runs and had the bases loaded with only one out. Although it was a great start to a potential comeback, the deficit was simply too much to overcome. The Miners fell to the Mountaineers 18-9.