07-11-2019 Tri-City Area Sports

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele


Hartford All-Star Baseball Tournament of Champions deemed successful!

It took a weekend and a plethora of staff and volunteers to make it happen, but the 2019 Hartford All-Star Baseball Tournament of Champions is in the books! And while the field of teams was much lower than in years past, the organization gave it their best effort to see that it was memorable for everyone who attended. Warm temperatures and summer sunshine warmed up the park throughout the tournament, and in turn, it heated up the players, as well!

In the Instructional Division, Paw Paw took home the championship, courtesy of an undefeated run through the tournament. They defeated South Haven in first round action, before matching up with Hartford in the winner’s bracket to determine who would make the championship series. They defeated the host team, and had to wait two days to find out their finals opponent. In the end, the team defeated Allegan to capture the division title.

HARTFORD 12U… All-Star Baseball team played in the 2019 Eaton Park All-Star tournament the end of June and came home with the championship trophy. It was a great tournament and they went undefeated, winning the championship game in extra innings. Pictured are (from the left): Front row – Terrance Payne, Brody Johnson, Lennon Ellis; Back row – Brian Sewell, Jaylin Bachman, Bryce Vujecht, Braeden Birkhead, Luis Rodriguez, Lincoln Birkhead, Robert Sewell, and Luke Williamson. They are coached by Andy Bachman, John Johnson, and Dustin Ellis.


Hartford was eliminated from the tournament in third place. They won their first tournament game over Allegan, before suffering defeat at the hands of Paw Paw. They fell to the loser’s bracket, where they played South Haven once again, and went on to victory. However, their tournament run, and season, was ended one game later by tournament runner-up, Allegan.

Paw Paw’s Max Macias was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Allegan received the Best Sportsmanship Award.

In the Minor Division, the competition was fierce, but in the end, Paw Paw was the team that took the championship home in thrilling fashion, winning two games on the final night to capture the title. They began the tournament with a victory over Hartford, and followed it up one day later with a victory over Eau Claire. The team would suffer defeat at the hands of Decatur, dropping them to the loser’s bracket where they faced off with Hartford one more time. They were victorious, setting themselves up for a rematch with Decatur in the championship series. They captured both games in high-scoring fashion to walk away with the championship trophies.

Hartford was eliminated from the tournament in third place. As mentioned, they suffered two defeats at the hands of Paw Paw to bow out with a 3-2 record for the tournament. But in the process, the team defeated Watervliet, South Haven and Eau Claire, making their tournament run successful.

Decatur’s Payton Wiggins was given the Most Valuable Player award in a losing effort, while the team from South Haven was awarded the Best Sportsmanship.

In the Pony Division, no one could match up with the team from Three Oaks, as they outscored their opponents over three games, 44-0, on their way to a tournament championship.

Because of a limited number of teams, round robin play commenced on Saturday, with bracket play being hosted the next morning to determine the champion. Three Oaks defeated Allegan, 15-0 and Hartford, 15-0 in round robin play, giving them the automatic #1 seed for bracket play. In the finals, they matched up with Allegan, and won that game, 14-0, to clinch the championship series.

Hartford was eliminated in third place, having gone 0-3 in the tournament. They suffered defeats to Allegan and Three Oaks in round robin play, and lost a hard-fought, 7-1 affair to Allegan to bow out of the tournament one game short of the championship game. The team played hard, but just could not get over the hump.

Three Oaks got both awards in the Pony Division, with their team earning the Best Sportsmanship Award, while player Ethan Izydorski was given the Most Valuable Player award.

The Hartford Council for Recreation thanks everybody for a fantastic couple of tournaments this summer, and hopes to see everyone back at Indian Pride Park for the 2020 editions next June and July!

Hartford Major Baseball takes victory at Eaton Park Tournament!

Due to the lack of teams participating in the Major Division in the Hartford tournament, play was cancelled, and the Hartford Major Baseball team became a late entrant into the 2019 Eaton Park Tournament. The tournament has been held for many, many years and features some of the better teams from across Southwest Michigan. The team would also see many communities they had not played this year, giving them a great opportunity to see if their hard work really paid off.

The young men battled their hearts out all weekend long, and when the dust settled and champions were crowned, you guessed it from the headline! It was Hartford that took home the championship trophies, with a thrilling 7-6 victory over Saint Joseph.

The tournament started with a pair of pool play games on Friday and Saturday in which Hartford won both in convincing fashion. Hartford defeated Saint Joseph in their first meeting on Friday by a 13-4 score, before going back Saturday afternoon to play Buchanan. They won that game by the mercy rule, winning 13-2.

The two victories gave Hartford the number one seed in their pool, and left them three victories away from the championship. Later on Saturday afternoon, the team came up against tournament host, North Lincoln, and came away with a 9-4 victory, moving them into the semifinals on Sunday. The first game on Sunday was against Bridgman, and the game was tight throughout. Hartford managed a 5-4 victory, setting them up for that finals classic against Saint Joseph.

Congratulations to the Hartford Major Baseball team on a fantastic team effort and accomplishing such a fantastic feat! We are all proud of you!

Hartford Softball Teams manage top two placings at Paw Paw Tournament

After missing out on tournament crowns in the Hartford All-Star Softball Invitational, three Hartford Softball teams – the 8U, 12U and 14U teams – made their way over to Paw Paw to compete in the second annual Paw Paw Yellow Ball Tournament. This tournament may be brand new, but plenty of competition was to be had as teams from as far away as Mendon made the trek to compete for one of four divisional championships.

The 14U Softball team came home victorious; thanks to victories in bracket play against rival Watervliet and the host team, Paw Paw. It was revenge of sorts for the ladies, as Paw Paw had defeated Hartford at their own tournament the week prior. In fact, there is currently a running joke between Hartford and Paw Paw that they should play one more game for all the trophies. Of course, it will not happen, but the possibilities would have been endless!

The 8U and 12U Softball teams both placed second overall, with the 8U team falling to Paw Paw in the championship series, while the 12U team fell to Decatur for the second straight tournament in the finals. Both of their postseason runs were successful, with the 8U ladies taking one first place finish and two second place finishes, while the 12U team finished in second place twice.

Congratulations to all of our Softball teams on a great tournament, and thank you for representing our community so well. Everyone is so proud of each of you!


Press Box Player of the

By Dave Vollrath

This week’s Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week is AJ Moore of Coloma. AJ is an infielder on the Coloma 10U All Star team, and has been a stand out contributor at the plate and in the field. In the recent Lakeshore All Star Invitational, AJ came to the plate following back to back triples by his team mates, and Coloma trailing 7-5. AJ blasted a 2-run home run over the left field fence, to tie the score. This bomb fired up his team and they went on to score five more runs in the inning, and go on to win the game, and eventually finished second in the tournament. AJ finished the weekend hitting over .700, including a double and a triple to go along with that home run.

AJ’s parents are Kristen and Paul Darling. He will be going into the sixth grade in Coloma, this coming school year. AJ has a great love for sports, and competes in basketball and football, and loves watching sports on TV. His favorite professional athlete is Michael Jordan. When AJ isn’t competing on the fields and courts, he enjoys hanging out with his friends, and also likes boating and fishing and just riding his bike.

AJ is a big fan of the Michigan Wolverines for college athletics, and names the Bulls, Cubs, and Bears as his favorite professional teams.

We congratulate AJ for being this week’s player of the week, and look forward to seeing him compete at Coloma for years to come.

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant


Boys Major 12U All-Stars

The 12U Major boy’s baseball team closed out the summer all-star season at the Lakeshore baseball tournament held July 5-7. The team, coached by Nick Prince and assistant Jamie Riley, played well and finished fourth in a tough division. They started the tournament on the right foot, beating the Lakeshore Black team in a close 5-4 game on Friday. On Saturday they were shut out by North Lincoln 7-0, finishing pool play with a 1-1 record.

In the first round of bracket play the boys beat St. Joseph 4-1. That win put them in the semi-finals, where they faced North Lincoln again. This one turned into a slugfest, but the Panthers came out on the wrong end of an 11-9 game.

Middle School girls basketball league

Success in high school sports is often the result of building a solid program at all grade levels and Coach Ken Dietz is building the future of a girls basketball program with a rich history going back to the early 90s. Over the last few weeks several Watervliet Middle School girls participated in the Lawrence Junior High Summer Basketball League. The league was started three years ago as a way to keep the girls active and to develop their skills in the off-season.

For the second time in three years, the Middle School Lady Panthers won the Lawrence Junior High Summer League. The league ran twice a week throughout June, ending with a single-elimination tournament. This year the Lady Panthers lost one game during regular play to Lawton by one point, and then erased that loss in the championship game by beating Lawton by nine. Teams that have played in the league have included Lawrence, Lawton, Marcellus, South Haven, Plainwell, Comstock, and Decatur.

This summer’s team included incoming 7th and 8th graders Alexis Hoadley, Grace Chisek, Tia Caldwell, Dez Warren, Abby Whorton, Lauren Laws, Chelsea Lange, Amiya Hinch, and Riley Preston. Coach Dietz gives a big thanks to the parents for their support throughout the summer league.

Watervliet grad pitching

Watervliet 2015 graduate Ashton Holdridge is currently pitching for the Capital City Reds, a summer collegiate baseball team playing in upstate New York. On June 30 he had a great performance in a doubleheader against the Monarchs and Flyin Fish of the Interstate Collegiate Baseball League. In the first game he pitched five scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out 11 batters to collect the win. In the second game he was called upon in relief, striking out both batters he faced and collecting his second win of the day.

Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League

June 8 Golf Report from the Paw Paw Lake Golf Club:

Weekly Event Winner – Cheryl Hutchins; Low Gross – Cheryl Hutchins with 50; Low Net – Charlene Durfee with 31; Low putts – Charlene Durfee, Colleen McKeown, Kathy Osborne and Sandy Johnson with 18.

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath


Coloma 10U Baseball All Stars lose championship game heartbreaker at Lakeshore Invitational

The Coloma 10U boys baseball team has been enjoying a great all star season, with a team stacked with hitting up and down the order. They have also been playing some solid defense as they rolled undefeated two weeks ago to win the championship at the Berrien Springs tournament.

This past weekend they were once again rolling along in the Lakeshore Invitational All Star tournament, winning their first four games by an average score of 15-4, and headed into the championship game with a full head of steam and a ton of confidence. They were facing a familiar opponent, who they have faced on several occasions this all star season.

RUNNING TO FIRST… Coloma 10U All Star Jaylin Vawter, blows a little bubble and tosses his bat, before heading to first base. The result of the swing was a run scoring triple during the championship game of Lakeshore All Star Invitational. Coloma lost this slugfest 20-19. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)


They knew from past games against this team from Bridgman that it would most likely take their best effort to win another championship. The Bridgman all stars also have a lineup that really hits the ball hard, and scores a lot of runs. As it turned out Coloma came up one run short, as they fell in the championship game by a final score of 20-19. It was a game Coloma could have won. Their defense came a little undone on a couple of plays that gave Bridgman some extra outs, but in the end it was a very exciting, entertaining, and hand wringing game, where each team performed in championship fashion.

Coloma came right out swinging the bats, and put up eight runs in the top half of the first, sending the first five players in the order across home plate, before the first out was made. Bridgman however, came right back and put seven runs on the board, and only trailed by one after the first inning. In this age group, they do not yet have live pitching, and both teams were wearing out that pitching machine.

The Coloma boys scored two more runs in the second, to take a 10-7 lead, but Bridgman wasn’t done either, and put up another seven spot to take the lead 14-10. Coloma came up empty in the third inning while Bridgman kept putting runs on the board, and Coloma trailed 17-10. There was no quit in the Coloma kids however, and they scored five more runs in the fourth to get back in the game 17-15. Then after Bridgman scored three runs to go back in front by five, Coloma again was shut down in the fifth and went into the sixth and final inning trailing by a 20-15 score.

The ability to fight through adversity is a great character trait to possess, and these Coloma boys really showed a lot of heart and courage to fight. It was their third game of the day, and fifth in two days, and it was very hot and humid both days, but there just was no quit in this team. Coloma scored four runs to make things very nervous for Bridgman. But with the score 20-19, they were able to make the final two plays and hold Coloma from winning another championship. This Coloma team has a lot to be proud of though, and will be competing this coming weekend, in Allegan, where they will be competing with live pitching, to get ready for the coming years.

The top hitters for Coloma in the championship game were, Dylan Groendyk with two singles, Carson Coble with two doubles and two runs scored, Brady Carlson with a double and a single and two runs, Maysen Hess three singles and four runs. Aiden Hampton had a triple and a double and Jaylin Vawter also had a triple.

Coloma 16 Lakeshore 3

In Coloma’s 16-3 semi final win against Lakeshore, top hitters were Brody Ashley, Carson Coble, Brady Carlson, Maysen Hess, Ross Smothers, and AJ Moore.

Coloma 13 South Haven 1

Coloma defeated South Haven 13-1, and Coloma’s offense was led by Brody Ashley who had three singles and scored three runs, Dylan Groendyk had three singles, and Dylan McCoy and Jarrett McCoy each had two singles.

Coloma 15 North Lincoln 7

In the 15-7 come from behind victory against North Lincoln, AJ Moore blasted a 2-run home run, which tied the game at seven, after Coloma had trailed 5-0 and then 7-4. The tying home run came after back to back triples by Dylan McCoy and Ross Smothers in the fourth inning. Coloma went on to score five more in the inning, and three in the fifth. AJ also doubled in the game, Dylan M, added a single and a double, and Jaylin Vawter had a single and a double.

Coloma 13 Watervliet 2

Leading hitters were Brody Ashley with three singles and three runs scored, Dylan Groendyk three singles, Dylan McCoy two singles, and Jarrett McCoy two singles.

Coloma 8U wins 2 loses 2 at Lakeshore Invitational All Stars

The Coloma 8U All Star baseball team competed last weekend, July 5-7, at the Lakeshore Invitational. Coloma opened with a 15-5 loss to the Lakeshore Red team, and then came back big with a 20-0 thrashing of Allegan. Sunday morning Coloma was the number two seed and faced number three seed Watervliet, coming away with an exciting 6-5 walk off win. Coloma jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. Watervliet came right back with three runs of their own to tie it in the second.

BRYCE SCORES… Bryce Cartwright crosses home plate with the winning run for the Coloma 8U all star team, as they defeat Watervliet 6-5, to move on to the semi finals of the Lakeshore Invitational. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)


Coloma scored two runs in the third to regain the lead, and the score stayed that way until the top of the sixth when Watervliet pushed two runs across to tie the game. In the bottom of the sixth Coloma scored the walk off winning run, sending Coloma to the semi finals. Coloma’s day ended in the semifinals with a tough 18-13 loss to Lakeshore White.

Comet players are Bat Boy Robert Brooks, Johnny Dahlquist, Bryce Harris, Aiden Shoeneich, Kollen Norden, Jayden Hampton, Brody Winnell, Bryce Cartwright, Matthew Hejduk, Lane Ulleg, Gunnar Yahr, Parker Duffield, and Eli Veal. Head Coach is John Dahlquist, and assistants are Cody Kelley and Gordie Cartwright.

COLOMA 10U… All Star Team finished as runner up at the Lakeshore Invitational July 6-7, 2019. They had a heartbreaking 20-19 loss in the final to Bridgman. Pictured (from the left) are: Front row – Dylan McCoy, Ethan Schelling, Jarret McCoy, Carson Coble, Brody Ashley, Ross Smothers, Mason Hess; Back row – Jaylin Vawter, AJ Moore, Brady Carlson, Aiden Hampton, Dylan Groendyk; Back row – Head Coach Josh Groendyk, Coach Paul Darling, Coach Kenny Ashley, Coach Mark Coble. (TCR photo By Dave Vollrath)