Cardiac kids, another Esky walk-off win

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Escanaba pitcher Brian Boutilier (42) loses the handle on a throw as Gladstone’s Aiden Burie slides safely into home plate Tuesday in the Little League Minor (9-10) district tournament in Gladstone. Watching the play from behind is Gladstone batter Braxton Breitenbach.

GLADSTONE — It was another dramatic finish for the Escanaba Minor Boys’ Little League All-Stars (age 9-10) Tuesday night as they escaped with a 7-6 triumph over Gladstone in the area baseball tournament.

The victory sends Esky to the District 10 tournament at Norway where it will face the host team Saturday at 2 p.m. (EDT).

Gladstone returns to Howes Family Field to face Tri-County in the area tourney finale tonight at 6.

In Tuesday’s opener, Blake Tanner fired a no-hitter, struck out seven, walked one and played a major role in a first-inning triple play as Tri-County blanked Munising 12-0 in four.

Esky’s Max LeDuc provided the game-winner on a wild pitch with two out in the sixth inning in Tuesday’s nightcap, one night after it squeezed past Munising 9-8 on the final play of that contest.

Gladstone led 6-4 after Miles Vitito’s single to centerfield in the fifth.

Samuel Beaver trimmed Esky’s deficit to 6-5 on a wild pitch in its half of the fifth. Max LeDuc’s single to left tied the score in the sixth, moments before he scored the game-winner.

“The kids got down after Gladstone took the lead, then the run in the fifth inning seemed to perk them up,” said Esky manager Andy Fields. “This is the second night in a row we battled right to the end. We’ll have all our pitchers back for Saturday. We’re happy it worked out that way.”

Esky, taking advantage of two errors and two walks, scored four times in the first.

Braiden Miron got Gladstone on the board on Teagan Reynold’s sacrifice fly to right in the third. Rory Johnson then made it 4-2 on Nate Beauchamp’s ground out to the pitcher.

Aiden Burie pulled Gladstone within 4-3 on a passed ball and Nick Proehl tied the score on an error in the fourth.

Gladstone took a 5-4 lead in the fifth on Xavier Leipzig’s single to left, shortly before gaining its two-run cushion.

“It was looking good for a while,” said Gladstone manager Gabe Cameron. “It’s tough to come back from a four-run deficit, but our subs are good hitters and they brought us back. It felt good to get the lead.

Brian Boutilier took the win in relief of Ashton Rymkos, who scored Monday’s game-winner. Boutiler fanned five, walked one and gave up three runs on three hits through 2 2/3 innings Tuesday. Rymkos whiffed four, walked four and allowed three runs on two hits in 3 1/3 frames.

Gladstone used three pitchers, including Cooper Sanville who worked 5 1/3 innings in relief of Leipzig.

Sanville whiffed nine, walked two and surrendered two runs on two hits before reaching his pitch count limit. Johnson, who faced the final two hitters, absorbed the loss.

Sanville had two of Gladstone’s five hits, including a one-out triple to left in the fifth. Esky finished with four.

“The kids played their hearts out,” said Cameron. “We’re not disappointed because the guys were playing good baseball.”