SAULT STE. MARIE - Previous victories are never a guarantee for future success. Escanaba manager Tom Ohman and Gladstone manager Jim Groleau both know that. Though going undefeated against an opponent sure looks good on paper, the postseason is a whole new ball game.
The Escanaba and Gladstone Legion baseball teams are set for the Zone Tournament at Sault Ste. Marie and Rudyard beginning today and running through the weekend.
Gladstone (35-9) plays Hancock today at 3 p.m. before playing a doubleheader Friday against Kingsford at 9 a.m. and Channing at 3 p.m. All three games will be played at Sault Ste. Marie.
The Indians went 12-0 against those opponents during the regular season.
"We fared pretty well during the season, but everyone is 0-0 now," said Groleau. "Hancock has strong pitching. They can really throw the ball well and you can't take them lightly."
Escanaba (11-12) has a doubleheader today, facing Marquette Blue at noon at Sault Ste. Marie and Menominee at 5:30 p.m. at Rudyard. Friday, Esky plays Eastern U.P. (Sault) at noon at Sault Ste. Marie.
Like Gladstone, Escanaba has had success against all three teams in its pool.
"It's kind of scary. We just played Menominee (Tuesday) and won 16-3. We beat Marquette twice this year already 11-9 and 3-0, and we just saw Sault and beat them twice," said Ohman. "We're going to have to be at the top of our game to beat them again and I'm sure they'd like to get back at us. Beating a team three times is difficult, but I like how the kids are playing now."
Gladstone has more or less ran the table all season with seemingly superior pitching, fielding and hitting. The Indians feature power bats Jared Stenson and Hayden Hardwick, who have each belted four home runs this season. Matt Weyers is the team's ace pitcher.
"We have table setters in Paul Tomaszewski, Peyton Jurek and Cody Frazer and Hardwick and Stenson behind them. We feel pretty confident 1-6 in the order," said Groleau.
Escanaba features hot bats as well in Austin Young and Nick Vandermissen and quality arms in Trent Schwalbach, Matt Jensen and Ben Kleiman.
"Hopefully our pitchers can stay hot. They've been throwing very well the last couple weeks and not walking a lot of batters. The key is throwing strikes, and if the other team hits the ball, you have to find a way to make the play," said Ohman. "I think we have a pretty good understanding of where we're at. We have three games and if we can pull out two wins Thursday, we'll have a good chance."
The top two teams in each pool will advance to Saturday's semifinals. Groleau said if his team can remain focused, the Indians should meet their goal.
"Our number one goal this weekend is to qualify for states next weekend (in Marquette). We would like to win the zone, but also qualify for states," he said. "Sometimes overconfidence can hurt a team. On paper, we're sitting pretty good, but we still have to come out and play the games."