Northeast vs. FNW final would be electric


In a couple of weeks, Berryhill Post 165 and Gladwin Post 171 will begin what I hope is a long postseason run for one of them – or both of them – when the American Legion Baseball postseason gets underway with the Zone 4 tournament at Northwood University the weekend of July 22-24. For local fans who don’t want to wait that long to see some good baseball, I have good news: You don’t have to.

As I write this, a handful of local Little League teams are preparing to compete tonight in Distric1 1 tournaments in Mount Pleasant and Midland, and the Midland area is well represented, as usual. At the major (12-and-under) level, the marquee level of Little League Baseball, Midland Northeast will be facing always-talented Union Township at a 6 pm winners’ bracket final tonight in Mount Pleasant, while Midland Fraternal Northwest will take on Shepherd at 6 pm tonight on an adjacent field in a losers’ bracket semifinal.

Meanwhile, at the minor (10-and-under) level, host Northeast will face Bullock Creek in a 6 pm winners’ bracket final tonight, while Freeland will take on Mount Pleasant at a 5:30 pm losers’ bracket semifinal tonight, also at Northeast.

I’m particularly excited about the possibility of a Northeast vs. Fraternal Northwest matchup in Wednesday’ major championship game in Mount Pleasant. Of course, Union Township will have plenty to say about that. A team looks past UT at its own peril, because that program consistently churns out excellent ballplayers and is extremely well-coached. In fact, tonight’s winners’ bracket final between Northeast and UT undoubtedly will almost have a championship feel to it, and I’m eagerly looking forward to covering it.

Still, I believe that both Midland teams definitely have what it takes to not only win a district title but also make a lengthy postseason run afterward. FNW is essentially the same team that could’ve – and maybe should’ve – won the 11U state championship last summer in Bay City. I covered that group three or four days in a row during last year’s state tournament and quickly became a huge fan of those boys. They have plenty of pitching, they hit for power, they have speed, and they’re just really, really fun to watch.

Unfortunately for FNW, it took a 10-2 loss to Northeast in last Friday’s district opener and now is having to battle its way through the losers’ bracket. So far, it’s been smooth sailing, as FNW has outscored its opponents 37-5 in two elimination games. FNW certainly has the bats to win this tournament, but it’ll be interesting to see if it has enough arms to continue staving off elimination. Even a deep pitching staff can be taxed by having to play multiple losers’ bracket games over the course of a few days.


Beating FNW by eight runs on Friday is a testament to just how good Northeast’s all-stars are, because, as I’ve noted, FNW has a terrific team. Northeast punched its ticket to tonight’s winners’ bracket final by routing Shepherd 12-2 on Saturday, and NE now has had two full days to rest all of its pitchers. Like FNW, Northeast is loaded with talented kids, many of whom I’ve watched excel in city championship games and home run derbies over the past couple of years, and they can pitch, hit, and run the bases with the best of ’em .

I would love to see a Northeast vs. Fraternal Northwest showdown in Wednesday’s final. The atmosphere would be truly electric, the competition on the field would almost certainly be intense, the future of Midland and Dow baseball would be on full display, and I would expect nothing less than a thrilling title game. Talk about a good time!

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