A clean sweep for Alpena

The Alpena Green 12U baseball team can hold its head high after winning its second state title in two years, after beating Alpena Grey 19-1 in a five-inning mercy on Sunday.

Alpena 12U travels to Kentucky to play in the regional tournament. If they win there, they will play in the Little League World Series.

“We have a real special group of kids here. This is our second state title in a row and I’m really excited for the chance to play in the regionals and make it to the world series,” Alpena 12U coach Jim DeRocher said.

However, Alpena Grey has no reason to be ashamed: it made it to the state final game by beating Clinton Valley 9-6 and held strong against what is essentially Alpena’s Little League All-Star team, in spite of existing for only a week and a half and five practices.

“I’m very impressed with how they played. I couldn’t be prouder of them. We had a short time frame to pull the team together and to play as well as we did, I couldn’t be happier,” Alpena Grey coach Matt Amlotte said.

Alpena 12U came out strong right away, scoring four runs in the first inning. Owen Limback and Kyle VanDusen walked while Chris DeRocher hit a single and had an RBI. Jordan Schultz led in the first inning with a double and two RBIs.

Grey’s defense stumbled slightly in the first inning, but not during a pickle between first and second when a Marcus Amlotte pump-fake helped tag out Colby Plowman.

Alpena 12U pitcher Aidan Goike took early control. He pitched a full game, striking out seven, walking two and giving up only one hit.

Alpena 12U scored three more runs in the second inning off pitcher Kelly Stark. Goike, DeRocher and VanDusen singled while Limback and Eli Winter doubled.

Star pitched three innings for the loss. He faced 22 batters, walked two and gave up 10 hits.

Alpena 12U extended its lead in the third inning after Jared Sharpe hit a homer and Winter doubled. Goike immediately homered to score Winter and make it a 10-0 game.

Limback singled and made it to third, but catches by Grey center fielder Connor Millison and shortstop Brock Schnebelen kept him stranded.

Grey scored in the third after Nathan Slominski drew a walk. He was driven to second on a sac bunt by Gage Tippman, advanced to third on a throwing error and stole home on a passed ball to make it 10-1.

Aden Smith drew a walk and stole his way to third, but was left stranded to end the inning.

Tippman held 12U scoreless in the fourth inning. Grey had the chance to score after Charlie Williams doubled and advanced to third on a passed ball, but was thrown out at third by 12U catcher Anthony Berg.

Grey’s one run was enough to prevent a fourth inning mercy, but 12U scored nine runs in the inning to end the game.

Riley Arlt, Goike, DeRocher, Schultz and Plowman all singled, while Sharpe drew a walk. Limback drew a walk and singled. Shultz and Plowman had RBIs while Goike hit a two run homer to end 12U’s scoring glut and to lock up its state championship.

“I think we have a really good chance this year. This group of kids has played together a real long time and has a lot of tournament experience and really knows what it takes to win,” DeRocher said.

Eric Benac can be reached via email at ebenac@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.