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Indians start hot, roll past Cubs

Austin Hemmingson | Daily Press Escanaba’s Grant LaMarche (7) slides into second base as Gladstone’s Caden Alworden attempts to turn a double play during Thursday’s Upper Peninsula Under-19 League baseball game at Escanaba. Looking on for the Indians is Zach Hanson (3).

ESCANABA — The Gladstone Indians cashed in on some timely hitting here Thursday night in a 7-1 baseball victory over the Escanaba Cubs in Upper Peninsula Under-19 League action.

An example of that took place in the fourth inning when the Indians (4-2) took advantage of two errors and scored twice for a 5-0 advantage.

“Offensively, we got the timely hits when we needed to,” said Gladstone manager Justin Jurek. “We capitalized on their mistakes. When you steal a run or two, I think it helps the guys relax. I don’t think the score really shows what happened on the field. Except for a few errors, Esky played a quality game.”

First baseman Dayton Bernson drove in two runs, including one on a bounce-out to second base for a 4-0 cushion in the fourth.

Third baseman Parker Frappier, who collected three hits, then gave the Indians their five-run advantage on a single to left field in the fourth.

“Gladstone is a very disciplined team,” said Esky manager Jon Bintner. “They can all bunt and they work the count real well. For example, Hunter Lancour threw 24 pitches in the first inning. He threw strikes, but they kept fouling balls off with two strikes. They really made him work.”

Indians’ shortstop Zach Hanson opened the scoring on Bernson’s sacrifice fly to center and catcher Dan Martin made it 2-0 on Frappier’s double to center in the first.

Gladstone, taking advantage of four walks and a passed ball, extended its lead to three runs in the third.

“Getting out to a lead early helped the guys relax,” said Jurek. “Defensively, we played real well.”

The Indians appeared to set the tone right off the bat when Bernson made a diving catch on a line shot by Esky’s leadoff hitter Nick Kolich, robbing him of a possible extra-base hit.

After coming up empty in the opening frame, the Cubs stranded a pair of baserunners after the Indians turned a double play in the second.

“Give Gladstone credit,” said Bintner. “They came ready to play and we came out flat for a rivalry game after a big win last night (in Wednesday’s 8-2 triumph over Menominee). We didn’t have a chance to work on things we knew they were going to do. Our communication broke down at times and we didn’t focus as well as we should.

“We have a lot of time to come back. It’s a matter of creating your own luck. If you put in the effort, good things will happen. Overall, we’ve been able to find ways to win.”

Bernson added a run on a fielder’s choice and Frappier then scored on a passed ball for an insurmountable seven-run advantage in the sixth.

Catcher Collin Arnt, who led off Esky’s half of the sixth with a double to left, then scored its lone run on Riley Lamb’s single to left.

Gladstone finished with six hits and Esky (5-2) had five. Centerfielder Jake Anderson led the Cubs with two.

Winning pitcher Drake Forrest, who worked five innings, struck out six, walked two and allowed just two hits.

“Drake threw extremely well,” said Jurek. “Drake might not have been as efficient as he wanted to be, but he got out of jams. Hats off to Drake for staying strong after they got two runners on in the second. This is what we kind of come to expect from him.”

Lancour, who pitched 4 1/3 innings, absorbed the loss. He gave up five runs on four hits, fanned five, walked seven and hit a batter.

Esky committed two errors and Gladstone had one.

The Cubs travel to Iron Mountain for a doubleheader Monday, then visit Gladstone Tuesday.

Earlier, Trent Lawson collected three hits and struck out eight, leading the Junior Cubs past the Junior Indians 10-4. Bryce Blixt, Josh McEvers and Carson Sprader added two hits apiece.

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