Tigers defeat A’s in Bigs and Knik Majors Little League tournament Monday


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Big congrats to the Tigers, who defeated the A’s on June 30 to reign as Little League champs, nabbing the win in extra innings.

DAVID MORSE

Karma struck a unique chord Monday night as the Tigers defeated the A’s in games played thousands of miles away.

The Detroit Tigers, hosting the red-hot Oakland Athletics, got a grand slam homerun from Rajai Davis in the bottom of the ninth to post the spectacular 5-4 win.

Here in Eagle River, the Tigers clawed out a victory, when after trailing 3-2, the home club scored a run in the bottom of the fifth to tie, then another in extra innings, in the seventh, to win, 4-3.

The Tigers posted two unearned runs in the bottom of the first, with players Jay Hickman and Justin Nevells pushed around the bases compliments of a couple A’s miscues.

With the Tigers threatening again in the second, the A’s opted to reverse their battery, with starting pitcher Riley Fugere going to catcher, and starting backstop Ian Frizelle stepping to the mound.

With bases loaded, Ian fielded the first pitch, a comebacker, relaying the ball back to home for the force-out, with Riley rifling the ball to first for the rare 1-2-3 double-play to get out of the inning unscathed.

The remarkable play was the impetus for the A’s, which came back with a vengeance, scoring three runs in the top of the third. Leadoff hitter Jackson Wall started off with a walk off Tiger starter Sterling Retzlaff, followed by back-to-back singles by Riley Fugere and Christian Cambridge. Cambridge’s blast ended up at the fence, with the fleet-footed shortstop on third base, with two runs across. Cambridge then scored on a past ball for the 3-2 lead.

Retzlaff then settled down striking out the five of the next six batters to carry the game into the fifth inning.

Meanwhile, the A’s hurler Frizelle was lights out for opposition, throwing five strikeouts, until with one out in the fifth, Nevells followed with the long shot to leftcenter that glanced off the fielder’s glove, proving the speedy player ample time to end up on third base. Nevells then scored on Retzlaff’s infield out to tie the game, 3-3.

In the top of the fifth, Detroit manager Luke Sorensen had moved starting shortstop Justin Nevells onto the mound, and slid Sterling into Nevells’ prior position.

The Tigers’ reliever faced four batters in the fifth, then three in both the sixth and seventh frames for three scoreless innings and the victory.

The A’s looked to challenge for the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth, but a nifty 1-6-3 double play, from Nevells, to Retzlaff, to first baseman Austin Bull, ended the threat.

The Tigers opened the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff triple from Cameron Witte, who then scored the winning run on Hickman’s infield grounder, with large Tigers’ bleachers erupting with the win.

The game was a wonderful display of both skills and sportsmanship and both teams should be praised for their efforts in both regular season and tournament play.

The two teams were wonderfully matched, with the A’s defeating the Tigers in all three regular season games, said Sorensen, yet the Tigers getting the better of the deal, winning 2-of-3, in the end-of-season tourney.

The A’s win, an 11-3 win last Saturday, had put the two teams on even par, with the previously unbeaten Tigers, pushed to Monday’s “if necessary” title game.

The pair of walk-off, one-run wins by the Tigers over the A’s in game played in different divisions, Little League and the National Baseball League, and thousands of miles apart – the same Monday night. It had to be karma.

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