GLADSTONE - Clinching the Mid-Peninsula League title wasn't much of a problem for the Gladstone Indians Tuesday night as they coasted to 16-0 and 12-4 American Legion baseball victories over the Negaunee Diamonds.
"Going after the league title was a big motivator," said Gladstone manager Jim Groleau. "We told the kids 'this is what you play for all year,' and they responded. A lot of hard work went into this."
Gladstone exploded for 15 runs in the first two innings of the opener, which ended in five. The Indians then did all their scoring in the first four frames of the nightcap.
Gladstone Indians pitcher Christian Groleau works in the second inning during the nightcap of a doubleheader against Negaunee Tuesday at Gladstone. (Daily Press photo by Keith Shelton)
"We really didn't know what to expect from Negaunee," said Groleau. "We also didn't know who would be throwing for us until about a half-hour before game time. We have a lot of sore arms. I'm glad it turned out the way it did."
Christian Groleau gained the win in Game 2. He struck out five, walked three, hit a batter and allowed three runs on three hits through five innings.
Lucas LaCosse, besides throwing out three baserunners at first from right field, pitched the final two frames. He fanned two and gave up a run on three hits.
"Christian held them in check," said manager Groleau. "He did a fine job, as did Lucas. In all fairness to Negaunee, they have a young team. They'll get things straightend out."
Cody Frazer's single to right opened the scoring for Gladstone (30-7) in the first. He added the second run on a double steal and Jake Pearson's triple to right made it 3-0.
The Indians, taking advantage of two errors, added three runs in the second and put up five in the third by cashing in on two more miscues.
Negaunee scored three times by taking advantage of three walks in the fourth, trimming its deficit to 11-3.
LaCosse then put Gladstone up 12-3 on a single to left in its half of the fourth.
The Diamonds ended the scoring in the seventh on Tyler Jandron's single to center.
Gladstone collected 13 hits, led by Frazer who went 3-for-3 and drove in three runs. Jared Stenson ripped a pair of doubles. Paul Tomaszewski and Hayden Hardwick also had two hits each.
Eric Wideman had two of Negaunee's six hits, including an RBI single to left in the fourth.
Aron Hodges, who pitched the entire game, absorbed the loss. He fanned eight and walked three. The Diamonds, however, finished with four errors.
In the opener, Jake Pearson and Levi Cunningham combined on a one-hitter. Pearson whiffed two, walked one and hit a batter through three innings. Cunningham fanned four and retired all six hitters he faced in relief.
Gladstone had seven hits. Pearson and Hayden Hardwick had two hits and three RBIs apiece.
Jandron took the loss. He struck out 11 and walked sixth. The Diamonds had seven miscues.
"Tyler actually pitched a good game," said Negaunee manager Robbie Jandron. "I think we have two good pitchers, only we have to make the plays behind them. Gladstone has a good hitting lineup, probably the best in the league."
The Indians recorded just three earned runs off the Diamonds, who had nine available players, including a pair of 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old.
"We have a lot of young kids," said Jandron. "Our inexperience has probably hurt this year more than anything."
Gladstone, pulling up several players from the Junior Indians, cleared its bench in both games.
"It was nice to look down the bench, see some players and get them all in the game," said manager Groleau."
Gladstone hosts Kingsford Thursday at 6:30 p.m. before hosting the South Division tournament Saturday.
Negaunee hosts the North Division tourney Saturday and league championship game Sunday.