06-15-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Blaney earns monster of a win at Pocono

 Ryan Blaney, driving for Wood Brothers Racing, just might have a new favorite number – the number one, that is.

Blaney earned his first victory on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunday, as he took the checkered flag in the 160-lap Axalta presents the Pocono 400. Blaney outmaneuvered runner-up finisher Kevin Harvick to earn his first career win.

Blaney led 10 laps at Pocono Raceway. He also earned his third top five of the season and fifth top 10 finishes. Blaney has started from the inside front row once this season.

Harvick’s second place finish gave him his fifth top five of the season. Although Harvick has started from the pole position three times in 14 races thus far, he has yet to score a victory.

A rookie finished in third place. Eric Jones led 20 laps on his way to his highest finish of the 2017 season.

Kurt Busch picked up his second top five finish; he crossed the finish line in fourth place. Busch has one win on the season.

Brad Keselowski drove straight into fifth place, after leading 11 laps.  Keselowski has two wins this season and eight top five finishes.

Other drivers who led laps but did not finish in the top five include pole sitter Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 100 of 160 laps. Busch has yet to make a trip to Victory Lane this year.

Martin Truex Jr. led five laps, Kyle Larson took the helm for nine laps, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. recovered from his terrible finish last week and led three laps, while Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez both led the field for one circuit.

In the driver standings, Truex Jr. sets the pace. He is followed by Larson, who trails by three points. Harvick has a lot of ground to make up; he is 116 points behind Truex Jr. and is in third place.

Kyle Busch sits in fourth place overall and is 129 points back. Jamie McMurray rounds out the top five in the driver standings, 130 points out of first place.

Race fans in Michigan, rejoice! NASCAR is in town – Brooklyn, that is. The drivers and crews will be ready to roll Sunday in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Both Larson and Joey Logano won at MIS last year, Logano in June, Larson in August. You can bet a victory on the track, on Father’s Day, would make either driver’s dad proud.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never win a NASCAR race unless they host it on I-94 when I’m late to work. So, to honor my dad on one of the most special days of the year… “Happy Father’s Day, Dadums!”

Comets blaze to regional softball championship

 With temperatures climbing from the 70-degree mark into the 80s and the cottonseed floating across the field, the Lady Comets of Coloma earned a trip to Michigan High School Athletic Association quarterfinals play on the diamond after defeating Schoolcraft and Buchanan in stunning fashion Saturday.

GREEN HOISTS GOLD… The Coloma varsity softball team posed with the MHSAA Division 3 Regional champion trophy Saturday after sweeping their competition by shut outs. The Lady Comets topped Schoolcraft 4-0 and blanked Buchanan 11-0 to claim the championship.

To get to regional action, Coloma won the Division 3 district championship. They topped district host Watervliet 9-3 before notching two straight shutouts, 11-0 versus Lawton and 9-0 against Hartford. With the district title in hand, the Lady Comets headed back to Coloma to host regional competition.

Kayla Yore had the first hit for Coloma in the first inning of Saturday’s early game. Morgan Wagner also got aboard the bases. Jaidyn Hutsell hit a single and Wagner moved to third base. Unfortunately for Coloma, the runners were left stranded on the bags and the Comets’ half of the first inning closed out without a runner crossing home plate.

Defensively, Jenna Walter had the first put out for Coloma. She fielded a hit and threw to Alyssa Dillenbeck at first for the out, and the Comets were rolling. The first inning ended in a 0-0 tie.

POP-UP CAUGHT BY PICKENS… Watervliet’s Zack Pickens waits for a pop-up to drop Saturday during the Panth-ers’ regional game against Schoolcraft. Watervliet lost the first round contest 2-1 and ended their impressive season 19-9. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Mya Potter of Coloma opened the second inning by reaching first base after being walked, and the Comet crowd was thrilled to have another runner aboard the bases. Potter stole second on a passed ball. Walter went to the plate and hit a sacrifice bunt that safely sent Potter to third.

Coloma’s Skylar Crisenbery hit a shot to left field, but the fielder dropped the popup, and Potter scored the first run of the game. Megan Koenigshof hit a single to short left field and scored an RBI. With two runs scored, Coloma led following completion of their half of the second inning of play.

Schoolcraft managed one hit in the bottom of the second inning.

Coloma’s Nicolle Larson got a walk to lead off the third inning. She was the only batter to get on base, as Schoolcraft’s pitcher tightened up her game.

The Comets faced a scare in the bottom of the third inning. Schoolcraft was able to get a walk, hit a double, and had runners on second and third with two outs. Crisenbery relied on her infielders who came up big with a ground out to end the inning without a run being scored. After three complete innings, Coloma held a 2-0 lead.

The fourth inning was a wild one for Coloma and Wagner. Alyssa Dillenbeck began the action by hitting a blooper single that dropped in shallow center field. Koenigshof stepped up to the plate and blasted a shot up the middle.  Faced with runners on second and third with two outs, Wagner strode to the plate. On the ensuing pitch, she blistered a shot to right center that sent both base runners home. Following a final out, the Comets led 4-0.

Schoolcraft hit a double to lead off their half of the fourth inning, but that was all the team would muster. A fly out, strikeout, and groundout would end the inning.

Coloma was held scoreless in the fifth inning, as was Schoolcraft.

During the sixth inning, both teams were held scoreless. Crisenbery walked the first Eagle she faced in the bottom of the sixth. The next batter hit a popup that third baseman Walter caught. Walter then turned a double play by throwing to Dillenbeck at first for the out as the Schoolcraft player was caught off the bag.

Wagner doubled in Coloma’s half of the seventh inning. She was tagged out after trying to score on a Hutsell single. Larson also hit a single but two runners were stranded as Potter popped up to end the inning.

With the Comets holding Schoolcraft at bay in the seventh inning, Coloma handed the Eagles a 4-0 shutout.

Buchanan and Hopkins squared off in the noon game, with the south county Bucks taking a 5-1 victory.  That meant Buchanan and Coloma would face off in the regional championship game at 2:00 p.m.

The temperature continued to climb, the sun was out in full force, and the fans were stacked three deeps, as the softball squads took the field.

Coloma then cemented the belief that – as they have all season long – if they score early, they usually win the game. Against Buchanan, speedy Koenigshof opened the game with a leadoff single and a steal of second base. Wagner and Larson hit back-to-back doubles and each scored one run as Coloma took a 2-0 lead after the opening half of the first inning.

Coloma’s toughest task of the game came in the bottom of the first. They gave up a leadoff single followed by a single that rolled to the fence. But, the Comet defense kicked into high gear, and the next three batters were easy outs, leaving two runners stranded at second and third base.

In the top of the second inning, Coloma’s Walter led off with a walk, Dillenbeck singled, and Crisenbery hit a sacrifice bunt to move the runners. Koenigshof belted an RBI single for Coloma’s third run of the game.

MORGAN’S MOTION… Morgan Wagner of Coloma’s varsity softball team rounded second base in the first inning Saturday. Although Wagner ended the inning stranded on third base, Coloma topped Schoolcraft 4-0. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Kayla Yore, whose bat had been virtually silenced in the first game, drove in a run off a solid single to center. Wagner picked up an RBI on a sacrifice bunt, and the score stood 5-0.

The third inning passed without either team scoring, but the Comets tallied two more runs in the fourth inning to increase their lead to 7-0. A barn burning four-run fifth inning put the game away for Coloma, as Buchanan ended their day being mercy-ruled.

Coloma holds a 34-8 record as they head into MHSAA state quarterfinal action against Napoleon Tuesday, June 13. Game time is set for 5:00 p.m. at Hope College in Holland.   As of June 1, Coloma is ranked sixth in the state in Division 3 softball, while Napoleon is ranked third.

Panther baseball falls short in regional title run

 The dugout was silent as Watervliet players gathered equipment and filed off the baseball field Saturday. The Panthers varsity baseball suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in District 3 regional play at host Coloma to Schoolcraft. It was a very emotional end to their season, not just for the players but also head coach Josh Tremblay.

“I’m hoping history repeats itself,” he shared. Back when Tremblay took the field as a high school ball player he played for Schoolcraft. During his freshman year, Tremblay’s Schoolcraft squad faced Watervliet in regional action… and lost. “The irony,” as Coach Tremblay called it, was not lost on him Saturday as he stood in the dugout prior to running drills with his Panthers. As a player, he faced Watervliet and lost. As a coach, could he guide the Panthers to another regional game win? After all, the team swept district competition, defeating conference co-champion Coloma 12-10, blanking Lawton 1-0, and walloping Bangor 11-1.

Watervliet faced a team ranked fifth in the state in Division 3 competition, according to MHSAA statisticians. The Panthers knew the game would be a difficult test but with Garrett Matthews on the mound, the squad was loose and confident watching the Eagles

Watervliet led off the first inning with a single to center off the bat of Zach Pickens. Unfortunately, Pickens was picked off trying to steal second base, and the Panthers were held scoreless through three outs.

With Schoolcraft up to bat, Matthews gave up a walk to start the bottom of the first inning. He got some serious help on defense, however, as Ryan Lefor had an impressive unassisted double play. Playing first base, Lefor caught a line drive then stepped on the bag to take two. Matthews gave up another walk and a single before the Panthers shut the Eagles down.

The second inning saw no offense at the hands of Watervliet. Matthews kept pressure on Schoolcraft, forcing two ground outs before a lone Eagle single. A third ground out ended the second inning. Both teams were tied at zero.

Watervliet’s lone highlight of the third inning was a single belted up the field by Ben Myas. That gave Watervliet a base runner with one out, until Myas got caught stealing. Following the top of the third, the game was still 0-0.

Schoolcraft was the first squad to get on board. They tallied two runs in their half of the third inning.

Watervliet clawed back for one run in the fourth inning, courtesy of Picken’s precise running skills. The first baseman was walked and stole second putting him in great position to score. Schoolcraft served up a throwing error, which allowed Pickens to score the only run Watervliet would plate the entire game.

With the game at 2-1 in favor of Schoolcraft, Watervliet continued to work. Neither team scored in the fifth and sixth innings.

Ben Myas blasted his second hit of the game for Watervliet in the top of the seventh inning with two outs. With one runner aboard, things looked promising for the Panthers. However, a groundout ended their scoring chances and the game.

Matthews took the loss for Watervliet. The Panthers scored one run on four hits. Watervliet gave up two errors, while Schoolcraft had three.

“I’m proud of the effort they’ve had this year. This is a fun group of guys. I enjoyed coming to practice to work every day with these guys,” shared Tremblay.

The Panthers ended their season with a 19-9 record.

Strawberry walk and run results reap sweet rewards

 The 39th annual Hartford Strawberry walk and run was held Saturday, June 10 amid perfectly ideal conditions. The sun was shining and the temperature wasn’t too warm yet as sneaker-clad feet hit the streets for one of the sweetest events of the festival.

Lisa Bale of Holland, Michigan posted the fastest time in the 5K walk. She finished the course in 33:39. Bruce Gelpaugh of Plainwell took second place (41:19). Hartford’s own Ken Willer finished in third with a time of 42:44. Lawton resident Jill Bullock’s time of 43:17 was good for fourth place. Jim Grabowski of Hickory Hills, Illinois grabbed fifth place (44:23).

Sixth and seventh places were captured by Hartford locals Stephen Shafer (44:24) and Mark Unrath (45:08). Finishing the race in eighth place was Christina Van Hoey of Southfield, Michigan; she completed the race in 46:27. Dina Molter of Paw Paw walked the event in 46:48 for ninth place. Rounding out the top 10 was Aislyn Waggoner of Dundee with a time of 46:51.

Carter Finch of Grand Junction grabbed the gold in the 5K run with his time of 18:14. Eau Claire’s Rafael Lopez finished second (19:36), and Bangor’s Ben Munoz took third (20:10). Ryan Maggert of Dowagiac earned fourth place with his 20:27 pace, while Coloma’s Chase Moxley finished fifth (20:46).

Sixth place went to Greg Little of Gobles (20:55). Hartford local Kody Edmonds ran the course in 20:57 for seventh place. Derrick Rosses took eighth place (21:01), while Mark Drallette of Scotts, Michigan run straight to ninth place with his time of 21:04. Zach Grear of Lawton completed the top 10 with a time of 21:06.

In the 10K run, Spencer Carr finished first overall with a time of 41:07; Carr is from Benton Harbor.  Evanston, Illinois resident Sean Patton finished in second place (42:30). Steve Wright of St. Joseph finished in third place (43:08). Coloma’s Chad Baird took fourth (43:32), while Randy Marsh of South Bend, Indiana finished in fifth place (43:49).

Crystal Cowgill and Isidro Quiroz, both of Hartford, finished in sixth and seventh place, respectively, with times of 47:18 and 47:35. Sasha Villagrana-Frost and Margaret Rivera, both of Chicago, took eighth and ninth place, respectively (48:56 and 49:14). Tim Bond of Mattawan completed the 10K’s top 10 with a time of 50:33.

The event also offered a free fun run.

July 5K event planned for Watervliet

 The 5K Gene Bednarowski Cherry Run and Walk, a long-time staple of the Watervliet 4th of July festivities, is accepting registrations for the July 1 event. Both races begin at 8:00 a.m. and kick off at North Elementary School, located at 287 Baldwin Avenue north of the city of Watervliet.

The registration fee is $20 through June 30 at 4:00 p.m. Go to runsignup.com today and get registered!

Little ladies hit the diamond this weekend

The Coloma Youth Baseball/Softball Association will host their annual Girls All-Star Tournament this weekend. The tourney begins Thursday, June 15 and runs through Sunday, June 18. Stop by the CYSBA fields at Washington Park, located at 6463 East Becht Road in Coloma to watch the youngsters play ball!

Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League

 Monday, June 12 golf report from the Paw Paw Lake Golf Club:

Low Gross on June 5 was Cheryl Hutchins with 47.

This week’s Event Winner – Katherine Rodriguez; Low Gross – Cheryl Hutchins with 54; Low Net – Anne Pudell with 40; Low  Putts – Carol Klass and Anne Pudell with 17; Birdies – Cheryl Hutchins on #13; Pars – Cheryl Hutchins on #12, Anne Pudell on # 12 and #16.


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