BOYNE CITY - The Gladstone Major (age 11-12) All-Stars overcame a few defensive miscues and withstood a late rally to overcome Rogers City 7-4 in Monday's state semifinal.
The victory enables Gladstone to advance to the state title game today at 3 p.m. against Freeland.
"We thought Rogers City would probably be the best team we've seen," said manager Rodney Schwartz. "We watched them Sunday night against Edwardsburg and they beat them 13-3 in five innings, they hit the ball really hard. We thought we'd have a high scoring game."
Instead Morgan Letteriero did a solid job of limiting the Rogers City bats, allowing five hits, all singles, walking three and striking out 12 while working the complete game on the mound.
"Morgan did a really good job," said Schwartz. "She got into a little trouble in the sixth, but she got out of it."
Gladstone got off to a hot start, scoring three runs in the top of the first. Natalie Hansen hit a double and reached third on a single from Christina Olsen. Hansen then scored on a passed ball. Brittany Schwartz drew a walk and Olsen scored on a sac-groundout from Taylor Trudeau. Letteriero then scored Schwartz on a single to cap the scoring for the inning.
Gladstone made it 5-0 in the top of the third without the benefit of a hit, loading the bases with one out on a walk, an error and a hit batter. Hansen then scored on an error at second base and Olsen scored on an error at third base.
Rogers City dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning, with the runner scoring on back to back errors, and added another run in the fourth on a single after a leadoff walk.
Gladstone went up 7-2 in the fifth when Brittany Schwartz ripped a double to left field. Trudeau then followed with a double to score Schwartz and Andie Balenger hit a single up the middle to score Trudeau.
Gladstone then had to hold on in the bottom of the sixth as Rogers City mounted a final rally. Starting pitcher Krysten Altman walked with one out, and with two outs, Altman advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a single from Amanda Wirgau. Brooke Clarkowski drew a walk and Alyssa Boden ripped an RBI single to score Wirgau. Letteriero however, got the last batter to groundout to Schwartz at second base.
Olsen had two singles and Schwartz, Trudeau and Hansen all doubled as Gladstone had eight hits.
"One of Olsen's two hits was a line drive right to the pitcher," said manager Schwartz. "She had no time to react, it hit her right underneath her collarbone, it was just a rocket."
There was a five minute delay as Altman recovered, but she came back and completed the game.
Gladstone's opponent in today's final, Freeland, defeated Grandville 3-2 in the semifinal.
"They're a pretty sound team on defense, and they can hit on offense," said Schwartz. "They'll be a tough opponent, but I think we can beat them."
The winner of today's game will advance to the Central Regional in Indianapolis. Play will begin on Saturday.