Braves jump ahead, strand Mountaineers to advance
HOUGHTON — After three hours with lots of hits and errors, the Gladstone Braves earned a spot in the MHSSA Division 3 Region 18 finals as they downed the Iron Mountain Mountaineers 18-11 in the semifinals Wednesday at the Houghton High School Sports Complex.
The game had a little bit of everything. However, much of it wasn’t pretty. Missed fly balls, errant throws and wild pitches were far too common in this one.
This was not the first time these two teams had met. Earlier in the year, they battled in another slugfest with Gladstone coming out on top 11-10.
“Solid pitching by both my pitchers and consistent hitting were key for us,” said Gladstone head coach Lucas Lacosse. “Trevor Hanson and Mason LaChance pitched fabulous for us. They threw strikes, and that was all we could ask for.”
The Braves face Benzie Central or Evart in the regional finals Saturday at East Jordan High School.
Iron Mountain’s Caleb Evosevich-Hynes opened the game with a double. Blake Julian followed with a hit of his own. Both came home to score.
Gladstone countered with a three-run bottom of the first. It came with just one hit Branden Sunquist and three Iron Mountain infield errors.
Iron Mountain’s top of the second was one of just three frames where they did not score. In contrast, Gladstone scored every inning. In the second, they tacked on two to take a 5-2 lead. Iron Mountain came back with three in their top half of the third to tie it with big hits by Julian and Ian Anderson. However, Gladstone took back the lead with two base hits and three walks given up by Iron Mountain pitching.
The fourth looked much the same with four runs tallied by the Mountaineers, and the Braves notched two. Then came the bottom of the fifth where the game was decided. The Braves mounted a seven-run rally taking advantage of missed fly balls and poor position play by Iron Mountain.
The Braves’ Tyler Darmogray started the inning off with a base hit up the middle. Two walks later Sunquist smacked an RBI hit of his own. After a single by Mason LaChance, Darmogray was back up at the plate and did it again with a hit to the left side.
“That seven-run inning was huge for us,” said Lacosse. “It was a big momentum swing, and it worked in our favor. Our bats never quit, and we just kept going.”
While the Mountaineers would tack on two in the top of the sixth, it was clear that the wind was knocked out of their sails.
“This loss stings. We were sloppy,” said Iron Mountain’s head coach Paul Julian. “Gladstone is a well-coached team, and we wish them the best as they head downstate.”
Gladstone faces Evart at 12:30 Saturday in East Jordan.