Esky Little League gets win

Escanaba downs Gladstone 7-2 in Minor LL play

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Gladstone shortstop Rylee Gerow gets ready to apply a tag on Escanaba’s Katie Lamb in Thursday’s Little League Major Girls game at Lemerand Park. Lamb was caught stealing on the play.

ESCANABA — Grayson LaMarche cruised through much of a District 10 softball opener Thursday night, helping the Escanaba Minor Girls’ Little League All-Stars (age 9-10) defeat Gladstone 7-2.

She tossed a two-hitter, retired the Gladstone hitters in order in four straight innings, finished with 11 strikeouts and allowed two walks.

“Grayson is a pretty amazing kid,” said Esky head coach Steve Braun. “She works hard at it. She has a real positive attitude and a strong arm. Grayson gave up a couple walks (in the sixth), but she hung in there and threw strikes in the end. She is impressive.”

Gladstone meets Norway in an elimination game tonight at 5, followed by a winner’s bracket contest between Esky and Kingsford at 7.

Kingsford hung on for an 8-7 triumph over Norway in Thursday’s nightcap.

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Gladstone pitcher Montgomrey Pepin delivers to the plate against Escanaba Thursday at Lemerand Park.

LaMarche gave up a bunt single to Addie Trombley in the first, then retired the next 14 hitters before allowing a leadoff single to rightfield to Lauren Sunquist in the sixth.

“Grayson deserves a lot of credit for the win,” said Gladstone head coach Rick Pepin.

“She’s a quality pitcher who throws hard. She has good speed and shows a lot of composure out there.”

That was evident in the sixth when Gladstone scored its second run on Sundquist’s single, then loaded the bases with one out.

LaMarche responded by striking out Montgomery Pepin and getting Maggie Buckley to ground out to first.

“It’s good to see there’s fight in our girls,” said coach Pepin. “We have character. We told the girls that one of our goals is to stay positive after a negative.”

Esky collected four of its six hits off Montgomery Pepin in the fifth, when it scored a pair of runs.

McKenzie Engebretsen’s double to center gave Esky a 6-1 advantage and Katie Lamb’s single to center made it 7-1.

“That was a big inning for us,” said Braun.

“That helped us breathe a little sigh of relief. Although, we got into little bit of trouble in the seventh. Gladstone has a great team. Their pitcher is phenomenal.”

Trombley stole two bases after her bunt single in the first, then scored on a wild pitch to put Gladstone up 1-0.

“What a great way to start a game,” said coach Pepin.

“Addie laid down a beautiful bunt and moved around the bases. That’s the way we wanted to start the game.”

Esky, which went out in order in the first, bounced back with three runs in the second. Engebretsen tied the score on a passed ball. Lamb gave the winners a 2-1lead on a bunt single and Morgan Maki’s single to center made it 3-1.

Esky then added a pair of runs in the fourth for a 5-1 cushion.

“We were a little nervous when they scored and retired us in order in the first,” said Braun.

“We had to think about what was happening. We got runners on in the second and got aggressive on the bases. We scored some runs, which was a huge relief. This is a great way to start the tournament. I think this takes off a little of the pressure.”

Montgomery Pepin also pitched the entire contest and absorbed the loss. She fanned 10, walked three and surrendered six hits.

“Montgomery struggled a little during the interior of the game,” said coach Pepin.

“Early on she was hitting her spots, but we have to give Escanaba credit. They were putting the ball on the ball. They steadily plugged away at us and made us work hard. They’re aggressive on the bases and well coached.”