GLADSTONE - The Gladstone Major boys (age 11-12) lived to fight another day and made a big statement in the process. After dismantling Schaffer 20-1 over four innings on Tuesday evening in a loser's bracket game of the Little League Area Tournament, the Gladstone All-Stars are one win away from advancing to the district tournament in Gladstone beginning Friday.
Munising has already earned a spot in districts after defeating Tri-County 13-2 over four innings Monday night.
In the other half of the area bracket, Norway beat Kingsford 9-0 Monday night to advance to Gladstone. They will join Iron Mountain as the representatives from that bracket.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Gladstone’s Quinn Downey ducks trying to avoid the tag but reaches base safely after Schaffer first baseman Brice Sundquist is unable to haul in the high throw, during a Major boys Little League area tournament game Tuesday night at Howes Field in Gladstone.
Quinn Downey led Gladstone's offensive surge Monday, as he went 4-for-4 with three triples, two of which went to the fence, and two RBIs.
"I was just trying to get singles," Downey said "But I guess they went over their heads and I just kept running."
The Gladstone All-Stars had 15 hits but scored four of their runs directly off passed balls. Gladstone also drew seven walks and made excellent use of their base runners, advancing nearly every player who reached base to scoring position.
"Our boys struggled on the bases a little against Munising," said Gladstone manager Mike Martin. "It's something we practice a lot and it was disappointing. But they did a lot better job of it today and we're hoping to keep improving."
Jacob Viau got the start on the mound and went three innings. He allowed four hits and walked one while striking out four. Ben Kelly pitched the fourth inning and struck out the side while issuing one walk.
"We're kind of in a chess game with the Little League pitch count," said Martin. "Having to keep my pitchers so I have them for four games and four days is a pretty tough thing to do. But we're doing the best we can and mixing it up.
"Jacob did a nice job today. I only gave him 20 pitches yesterday so he could pitch again today and he did a great job. I pitched Ben 20 pitches today so he's good for tomorrow."
Brody Sanville drew three of Gladstone's walks and ripped an RBI double. Ethan Nelson was 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs, Viau was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, Jake Strasler was 2-for-2 with 2 RBIs and Cooper Cavadeas was 2-for-2 with three RBIs.
Schaffer, which was outscored 34-1 during the tournament, got on the board in the third inning. With two outs, Matthew Richer ripped an RBI double and Brice Sundquist scored standing up as he was congratulated in the Schaffer dugout.
Schaffer centerfielder Tyler Livingston also had a solid performance, making a couple of nice grabs on long fly balls.
"Tyler made a few great plays for us during the tournament and our pitchers held together well, they were just hitting them," said Schaffer manager Joe Racicot.
It was a manageable game until the fourth inning. Gladstone held a 7-0 lead entering the third, but after Schaffer scored, it only seemed to motivate the
Gladstone All-Stars as they poured on 13 runs in the fourth to put the game well out of reach.
"They seemed to have fun," said Racicot of his team. "They got down on themselves pretty hard in the one inning, so I pulled the infield in and reminded them that they play as a team, they win as a team, they lose as a team, but as long as they stay as a team and keep their heads up, that's what the game is about."
As for Gladstone, they're looking at the situation with a sense of optimism.
"One advantage of being in the loser's bracket is you get to play a lot of games and they're having fun doing it," said Martin.
Gladstone resumes tonight in an elimination game at 5 p.m. against Tri-County. The winner will advance to the district tournament.