Niles F.O.P. 12-year-old All-Stars suffer 11-2 setback to start state finals
By By DREW ELLIS / Special to Niles Daily Star
MT. PLEASANT -- It's not easy to be the guinea pig.
Niles F.O.P. learned that lesson on Thursday as it lost its opening game of the Major Little League State Championship to Blissfield 11-2.
Niles is making its first appearance at a state finals tournament, and was matched up with a perennial baseball powerhouse in Blissfield.
Blissfield came out strong behind pitcher Eric Schmidt, who struck out the first six batters he faced.
Niles gave up four runs in the opening inning before pitcher Mike Simpson rallied to strike out five straight batters and keep the score at 4-0 through two innings.
Simpson was taken out while on his strikeout run and replaced by Andrew Brawley in the third inning.
Niles stayed close to Blissfield in the middle innings thanks to an RBI single by Cameron Sly in the third inning and an RBI by Rick Briand in the fifth inning.
A five-run fifth inning by Blissfield put the game out of reach for Niles.
Schmidt would get the complete game win for Blissfield with 10 strikeouts in six innings.
Asaad Ali led Niles with two hits, both of which were singles.
Although the weekend started tough for the Niles team, it is hoping to take back more than just wins and losses to its baseball community.
Despite being the new face in the state tournament, Niles feels that it can compete with anyone in its pool.
Niles resumes Blue Pool play today at 1:30 p.m. against West Branch, which suffered a 9-3 loss to Birmingham on Friday.
In the Red Pool on Friday, Western beat MI/WI Eastern 8-0 and Midland NE beat Lincoln Park American 12-1.