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Indians rally past Bucs

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone Indians and Bark River Bucs treated the fans to some free baseball before the Indians finally scored the go-ahead run on an error in the bottom of the ninth inning to seal a 5-4 home victory in Upper Peninsula Under-19 League action Monday evening.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Parker Frappier hit a soft ground ball to Bucs shortstop Travis Mack. Mack fielded the ball cleanly, but sailed the throw way over Max Hall’s head at first base as Ian Schwalbach came home to score the winning run.

“Any time you come up to Gladstone you expect a tough matchup because Justin has a good program going,” Bucs manager Matt Richer Jr. said. “They’re always a tough out. When we come up here we expect that we’re going to have play our best and give them a fight.”

The Indians (2-2), who jumped out to a 2-0 lead before falling behind 4-2, rallied in the bottom of the seventh to force the game into extras.

After Trevor Hanson popped out to shortstop to begin the inning, pinch-hitter Dayton Bernson smoked a double to left-center field to begin the rally and chase Bucs starter Nick Javurek. Zach Englund came on in relief and got Dan Martin to hit a soft pop-up to shortstop, but Zach Hanson extended the game with an infield single on a bang-bang play where it looked like the call could have gone either way at first base.

“Dayton Bernson really came through for us, starting us off with a double. That really gave some life to the rest of the guys,” Jurek said. “Even after Danny got out there, Zach came through with a clutch hit and got the team going and got some more life for us.”

Following Hanson’s single, Caden Alworden drilled a two-run double to the gap in right-center to tie the score at 4 and force extras.

“Caden’s two-run double is just (indicative) of the players we have, especially our older guys,” Jurek said. “They’ve been in these positions before, they know what to expect, and they know how to perform in those big situations. It’s nice having those guys at the top of the lineup to help propel us.”

The Bucs (4-8) had a great chance to take the lead back in the top of the eighth when Javurek doubled to center with one out. He then advanced on a passed ball and made an attempt to score on a ground ball to third by Johnnie Robinette, but he was called out at the plate on another questionable call that didn’t go in the Bucs favor.

“I told the players I thought they played a heck of a game,” Richer said. “There were a few unfortunate things that happened that we couldn’t control, so I thought they did a really good job just putting that in the back of their minds and just going out there and playing. Things just didn’t go our way tonight.”

After starting the season 0-2, Jurek likes the progress he’s seen his team make in its last couple outings.

“That’s where I think we’ve grown a lot already through this young season, is just learning how to fight through all seven innings of every game,” he said. “I think we kind of learned that in Game 1 (a 7-6 loss to Marquette June 19) after being up in the seventh inning and then losing it. I think that really taught us a lot about learning to fight through all seven innings, or in this case tonight, all nine innings. I think that’s been our biggest stepping growth so far.”

Riley Baldovski earned the win on the mound, pitching four shutout innings in relief of starter Mason LaChance. LaChance surrendered four runs on four hits while striking out two and walking one over five innings. Zach Hanson led the way offensively, going 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Alworden finished with two RBIs, while LaChance and Trevor Hanson each smashed an RBI double.

Englund took the loss for the Bucs over 2 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits while fanning three and walking one. Javurek went 6 1/3, surrendering three runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking just two. Javurek also went for 2 for 2 at the plate with a double, an RBI single and a run scored. Robinette had an RBI double and Englund went 1 for 3 with an RBI single.

The Indians also won the junior game, 16-5.

The Bucs are off until they visit Menominee next Tuesday, while the Indians host Iron Mountain Wednesday.

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