Lake Michigan Lakers fare well in tournament; U-13’s take title

Donovan Kirchinger of the Lake Michigan Lakers U-13's pitches against the Latitude 44 team during the Lakers' tournament over the weekend. (Kyle Kotecki/For the News Advocate)

Donovan Kirchinger of the Lake Michigan Lakers U-13’s pitches against the Latitude 44 team during the Lakers’ tournament over the weekend. (Kyle Kotecki/For the News Advocate)

By KYLE KOTECKI

For the News Advocate

MANISTEE — Thanks to the U-10, U-12 and U-13 baseball tournaments hosted by the Lake Michigan Lakers over the weekend, one didn’t have to look hard to find a game going on in Manistee.

Games took place at the ballfields of Manistee High, Sands Park and in the Village of Eastlake.

The Lake Michigan Lakers took first in the U-13 division with a 2-1 victory over the Stingers of Benzie County in the championship game.

“Man, those guys played good and it was a great game all around,” said U-13 Lakers coach Dave Edmondson. “2-1, eight innings, extras. These kids didn’t put their heads down and they stayed focused. It was hot, so they played in the heat and did a great job. It was fantastic.”

When runs are hard to come by, pitching can be the difference in the game.

“We had great pitching,” Edmondson said. “Jeffrey Huber was throwing great. He was throwing gas and all his pitches were working, but we had to pull him because he hit his pitch limit for the tournament.

“We put in Will Chye who did a fantastic job,” Edmondson continued. “He did what we absolutely needed him to do and Donovan Kirchinger came in and finished it off.”

Edmondson also coaches the Manistee varsity baseball team.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, a pitch in the dirt bounced out in front of the Stingers’ catcher and speedster Jacob Lindeman slid into home for the winning run.

The Lakers’ U-13 team earned a spot into the championship game with a 5-1 victory over Grand Ledge.

According to Edmondson, the success of the weekend was a total team effort, with everyone chipping in during big moments.

“Adam Workman had some really big hits and scored some huge runs for us,” Edmondson said. “Jeffrey (Huber) was pitching outstanding. Donovan pitched a 67-pitch complete game for us yesterday and threw outstanding.

“Jacob Lindeman made a nice play in the outfield that turned into a double play,” Edmondson continued. “Our catcher, Jaret Edmondson, threw a kid out at second base. We were outstanding all the way around.”

In the U-10 age group, though the Lakers finished 0-3, head coach Nathan Shannon was happy with how they performed.

“We had six teams come here,” Shannon said. “The competition was very stellar. They come to play baseball. These other teams get to do tryouts and so every team that comes here, they come and they play to win. For us to be a local group of boys, I think we played pretty good.”

Temperatures reached the low 90s over the weekend, which may have had an effect on some of the players.

“The team played very well,” Shannon said. “There were some easy outs that got away from us. The elements being hot had a lot to do with it for these kids.”

While a 0-3 finish wasn’t the goal heading into the tournament, Shannon could find little fault with how his team played and was quick to praise his players’ efforts in the three David-versus-Goliath matchups in which they took part.

To the elation of the team, Ian Guenthardt hit a booming triple Saturday night that drove in Kane Black. The offensive output wasn’t limited to just Guenthardt, however.

“Braylen Zimmerman, Grady Harless, Keegan Shannon and Kane Black all came through with some big hits and some RBIs,” Shannon said. “We had some crucial bunts in there. A couple squeeze bunts. I was happy with how we played against these bigger outfits. We held our own. I was impressed.”

There was a U-12 tournament held at the Manistee High softball field, but the Lake Michigan Lakers didn’t have a team competing in that age group.

The Lakers coaching staff pointed out that the tournaments couldn’t have taken place without tremendous volunteer effort. The volunteered time of those who ran the concession stands, made posters, groomed the fields and more made the event possible.

If the smiles on the kids’ faces were any indicator, it was time well spent.

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