Four Portagers named All-Northwest Conference

For some, a postseason honor is simply proof of a season well played. For others, it’s also a final feather in the cap for a successful prep career.

The Onekama baseball team had both meanings covered with three juniors and one senior earning all-conference honors for their play in the Northwest Conference this spring.

The Portagers’ Ben Acton closed his career with a first-team all-conference award as an infielder, while junior teammate Luke Mauntler joined him on the first team as a catcher. Onekama juniors Austin Harper and Wade Sedlar were all-conference honorable mentions.

“Ben Acton was a quiet leader for us,” said Onekama coach John Neph said of the 2019 graduate. “He was the ultimate team player, and moved from centerfield to play shortstop for us and did a fantastic job.

“He worked really hard in the offseason, and his batting average was way higher this year,” he added. “He really became an offensive force with his hitting ability and baserunning.

“He did so many things for us offensively and defensively, so it was certainly a well-earned award.”

In 10 conference games, Acton had a .464 batting average with four doubles, a home run, seven RBIs and 13 runs scored.

Mauntler was another Portager who could pretty much be plugged in anywhere, but proved himself an asset behind the plate.

“Luke’s another guy: very versatile, can play a lot of positions for us,” Neph said, “but he was our catcher for the conference games and was well respected among the coaches for his defensive ability, cutting down runners and did a fantastic job there.”

Mauntler batted .440 with a double, a home run, nine RBIs and 12 runs scored in conference play.

“He batted near the top of the order for us and put the ball in play,” Neph said. “He was a good baserunner for us too. Luke’s just one of those guys that just loves to play baseball.”

Onekama’s honorable mentions — Harper and Sedlar — shared the bulk of the team’s pitching chores during conference games, and were recognized for their efforts.

“Both Austin and Wade pitched very well,” Neph said. “We had a lot of really close games in our conference when those guys were pitching. They both did a great job.”

In three starts and two relief appearances, Sedlar had a 4.20 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings of work.

Harper had a 3.00 ERA in six starts and two relief appearances while striking out 35 batters in 23 1/3 innings. Offensively, Harper had a .464 batting average with six doubles, a triple, 14 RBIs and six runs scored in nine conference games.

“I really liked the Northwest Conference’s (selection) process,” Neph said. “We were able to get together as coaches and have a good roundtable discussion before we voted, and I thought it was pretty fair assessment of the players in the Northwest Conference this season.

“It was a tough league and a lot of good baseball was being played.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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