Kiwanis win league crown

The Fort Frances-based Kiwanis Little League team capped off a near perfect season Friday evening with an emphatic 12-2 victory in five innings over Super One to capture the Major ‘B’ Championship at Tony Rizzo Field over in International Falls.
Comprised of nine- and 10-year-olds, the squad posted an overall record of 12-1-1 counting both the regular season and playoffs.
The team suffered a scare the previous night when Super One came away with a 5-1 victory.
But as the regular-season champs, Kiwanis had earned a second chance to capture the league title the following night—an opportunity they did not squander.
Kiwanis head coach Don Larson was happy with the resilience his team showed coming back from the disappointment of defeat to win the championship on their second try.
“The boys played hard,” he said after Friday’s game. “They battled back hard after last night [Thursday].”
The look of pride on Larson’s face was unmistakable as he spoke about his group of players.
“A handful,” he said with a smile in response to what it was like coaching the kids all summer. “But all kids are.
“They’re pretty good kids,” he added.
Despite the lopsided final score, Kiwanis actually got off to a slow start Friday evening as starting pitcher Nolen Ross struggled to find his control.
Super One jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Ross walked two batters, hit another, and then uncorked a wild pitch before striking out the side.
After the game, he admitted he struggled with nerves at the outset.
“I was kind of nervous,” Ross admitted. “First couple of innings I didn’t do too good, but the last couple I did pretty good.”
The early deficit didn’t last long as shortstop Jordan Larson crushed a two-run homer to left-centerfield after Ross’ twin brother, Davis, had reached base on a single.
The blast gave Kiwanis a 2-1 lead after one inning of play.
Following an uneventful second inning, Super One re-applied the pressure in the top of the third.
A routine ground-out tied the game at 2-2 after the first two Super One hitters of the inning had singled and doubled.
But after that run, Nolen Ross settled down and Kiwanis recorded the final two outs of the inning.
The bottom of the third was a mirror image of the first inning. Larson came to the plate with Davis Ross standing on second following a double.
The Super One coaches had their outfield play deep to respect Larson’s power, but it was not enough as the Kiwanis slugger crushed his second two-run homer of the game to break the deadlock.
Kiwanis kept up the pressure, loading the bases after the Larson homer, but they could not score another run.
Nolen Ross struck out the side in the top of the fourth inning and once again it was Kiwanis’ turn at the plate.
They were charged with an out before their first hitter even took a swing due to the fact they were forced to play the game one man short because of absent players.
However, the Fort Frances team were able to make the most of the outs they had.
Davis Ross singled, followed by a Larson walk and a Chad Galusha single to load the bases. A pair of Super One wild pitches made the score 6-2 before Nolen Ross tripled, plating two more runs.
The umpire then called an end to the inning as Kiwanis had scored four runs—the maximum number allowed in a single inning during a Little League game.
Nolen Ross got into a bit of a jam in the top of the fifth inning when he struck a batter following a lead-off single.
But he would get bailed out by his brother, Davis, as the first baseman caught a hard line drive and then touched the bag before the Super One runner could get back for the inning-ending double play.
Super One changed pitchers in the bottom of the inning but the move would backfire as the hard-throwing youngster struggled to find the strike zone.
Kiwanis would score four more runs on two hit batters, three walks, and a couple of wild pitches to push their lead to 12-2.
The umpire then called an end to the game due to Little League’s 10-run mercy rule, prompting the Fort Frances squad to celebrate just outside their dugout.
The two teams then lined up along the first and third base lines to receive their trophies as proud parents snapped pictures.