IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WJMN) – The Iron Mountain Baseball Team’s season hasn’t gone quite according to plan.
“Yeah, obviously our season wins and loss- wise didn’t really go the way we wanted,” said Jeff McLean, the head coach for Iron Mountain Baseball. “We went 2-15 on the season. We played a highly competitive schedule though and we were in a lot of games we just couldn’t find a way to get into the win column at times.”
Despite their record, Iron Mountain kept their focus.
“The main message to the team was to keep working and keep grinding,” said McLean. “It only matters what the 17 guys inside that dugout think. We knew what we had, we knew if we kept working and trying to get better at our craft then eventually things were going to happen well for us.”
Entering their district tournament, their hard work started paying off in a big way.
“We pitched two incredible games number one,” said McLean. “Two, we cleaned up the mental errors. You know, over the years some of our losses we just made that one little mental error here and there and it maybe would cost us a run or two and ultimately the game. So, that was really the difference for us.”
After a 4-1 win over Calumet in the district semifinals, the Mountaineers upset favorite Negaunee in the district finals to capture their district championship.
“The feeling was elated,” said McLean. “I couldn’t be happier, especially for the seniors. I was just excited for the kids because of all the outside noise, but the kids came in, they bought in and just to see them when Evan made that last catch in center field, to see them all jumping for joy and everybody was so excited, it was special.”
“I think we had more energy in our dugout,” said Evan Haferkorn, a senior on the team. “Everyone was hyped up the entire time and ready to win. It felt good, I caught the final ball and that was a good feeling. It was just a good feeling to get two wins in a row.”
Next up for the Mountaineers is a big test against a powerhouse in Gladstone.
“They’re a tough team, but it’s very doable,” said Haferkorn. “The first time we played them this season, we made nine errors which doesn’t get you a win. We’ll see what happens this time. I think we’re a different team than the first time we played them.”
“Yeah, Gladstone everyone knows they’re a top program in the U.P.,” said McLean. “Joe’s going to have them ready to play. They have really good players, they do things so well, they execute so well. It’s going to be a challenge for us. Our game plan going in is to basically play a clean baseball game, and be smart about what we’re doing.”
The Mountaineers are eager to prove they belong.
“As I told the kids, you know, we’re not happy with just being there,” said McLean. “We earned our right to be there and we’re going to go there and try to give them a game.”
The Regional Quarterfinal between Iron Mountain and Gladstone is set to begin Wednesday at 4pm eastern at the Gladstone Sports Park.