GLADSTONE - The Gladstone Major (age 11-12) boys are proving there is still a lot of fight left in them.
On Sunday afternoon, an offensive outburst helped the Gladstone All-Stars stay alive, as they routed Escanaba 12-0 over four innings, eliminating their Delta County rivals in the process.
It was an uncommon sight to see Escanaba vs. Gladstone in a losers bracket game, but both Delta County teams fell in their area tournament openers on Saturday, setting up this game.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Gladstone’s Jacob Viau pitches during the first inning against Escanaba in a Little League Major boys game at Don Howes Field in Gladstone, Sunday afternoon.
A trio of Gladstone pitchers limited Escanaba to one hit and a flurry of fielding errors didn't help the Esky squad, overshadowing a solid performance on the mound from pitcher DJ Bourdeau.
Gladstone began the game with Ben Kelly on the mound, but after giving up two walks in the first inning, he was pulled in favor of Jacob Viau. Escanaba's Nick Shanahan greeted Viau with a base hit to load the bases with one out for Esky. But Viau shut them down from there, striking out Noah Lancour and Robert Donalds to end the side.
"I think I did pretty good," said Viau of his performance, acknowledging that "I could improve a bit when they bunt, not getting the ball with my glove, but barehanding it."
In the bottom of the first, Gladstone wasted no time establishing control, dropping seven runs.
Daniel Martin led off with a double, and with one out, Kelly, Ethan Nelson, Brody Sanville and Jim Greenlund each came up with RBI hits. Nelson and Sanville had back-to-back triples, helped out by fielding errors. Tyler Barteld also ripped an RBI triple as Gladstone batted through the order.
Escanaba had a second chance to score in the second inning. With two outs, Rory Wagner reached base on a walk. Bourdeau then hit a well-placed ball to right field and Wagner was sent home, but he didn't beat the throw to the plate and was out standing up.
Gladstone poured on five more runs in the bottom of the inning, all with two outs.
Sanville and Martin were each 3-for-3 , Martin with two RBIs.
Ian Schwalbach came on in reiief of Viau to pitch a perfect fourth inning.
It was a welcome change for Gladstone after the All-Stars fell 7-5 in a nine-inning game against Munising on Saturday.
"We used up a couple of our top pitchers against Munising and they're done for the weekend, so we were able to use a bunch of different kids today so we have some more for later in the week, and they all did good," said Gladstone manager Mike Martin.
"Jake came in and did good, and Schwalbach at the end threw about 8-9 pitches and he retired the side. We got some good pitching from our relievers today."
It was a tough tournament for Escanaba as the All-Stars were outscored 26-2 over the two games, having fallen 14-2 against Tri-County on Saturday.
"It was good competition, good quality. There were a lot of good players out there," said Esky manager Jim Murphy. "Tri-County looks to be pretty good and the way that they're playing, they'll give anyone they come up against a tough time.
"We had a good bunch of kids. Each and everyone one of them were good quality kids. We had a lot of fun out here playing in thie tournament and it was a great experience coaching them."
Gladstone will play Schaffer today at 5 p.m. while Munising is set to play Tri-County in the winner's bracket game tonight at 7 p.m. The loser of that game will face the winner of Gladstone and Schaffer on Tuesday.
Munising defeated Schaffer 14-0 Sunday afternoon in the double elimination tournament. The top two teams in the tournament advance.