Eskymos sweep Braves

LaMarche fans 16, Lamb stays hot with fourth home run in five games

Escanaba junior Grayson LaMarche winds up to deliver a pitch against Gladstone on May 14, 2024 at Abrahamson Field in Escanaba. LaMarche struck out 16 in a 5-2 in over the Braves. ("The Big Dog" Mitch Vosburg/Daily Press)

ESCANABA–There’s something unique about a rivalry, regardless of the sport or the foes.

Especially when one discusses Escanaba and Gladstone in softball. Those aren’t any run of the mill games. When the Eskymos and Braves collide on the diamond it’s an all-out war.

So how did the latest chapter of this storied rivalry pan out? Here’s what wen down:

Escanaba 5, Gladstone 2

University of Michigan commit Grayson LaMarche, to the surprise of only the seagull which occasionally flew over Abrahamson Field, took command in the circle for game one.

Her first batter to face was junior Lauren Sundquist. LaMarche fired a fastball. It was a pitch Sundquist was waiting for.

Sundquist turned on the pitch harder than Thor swings mighty Mjolnir. The hit safely cleared the fence in left center field for a lead-off home run and a 1-0 Braves advantage out of the gate.

LaMarche wasn’t phased. In fact, you could even see her crack a smile through her facemask like a villain knowing she has the upper hand.

Lamarche walked Reese Herioux in the ensuing at bat, but then got three straight outs off a groundout, strikeout and flyout to end the threat.

Esky senior Anna Boutilier belted a RBI single in the bottom half of the opening frame to even the odds at 1-1.

Then Lamarche got comfortable. Outside of a lone blemish that was a four-pitch walk to Allie Larson, LaMarche began to put batters away via strikeout. All three outs in the second came off a swinging strike three.

She ultimately struck out the next six batters she faced all on a swinging strike three. In total, she struck out eight-straight batters on a swinging strike three.

“I wouldn’t say she’s 100% back, but even an 85% Grayson Lamarche is a really good player,” Esky coach Andy Fields said of LaMarche. “We’re working on getting her stamina back. She’s got some muscle aches, and that goes with losing 15-20 pounds, but she’s coming along and we’re moving along.”

The Eskymos gave her run support. LaMarche herself earned a RBI single in the bottom of the third for a 2-1 lead. Then Boutilier scored from third off an infield fly rule out, and McKenzie Engebretson connected with a two-run single for a 5-1 lead.

The Braves continued to struggle against LaMarche. Until the seventh inning.

The Braves, who erased a 7-2 deficit to Negaunee five days earlier, began to get momentum when Madison Sundquist got on first base off a dropped third strike. Larson then bunted Madison Sundquist to second base. Brooklyn Pendegraft dropped a bunt of her own, and Esky second baseman Harlee Coolman committed an error which scored Madison Sundquist to pull to 5-2. Emma Trombley and Lauren Sundquist reached on back-to-back singles to load the bases with one out.

But Lamarche proved to be too much once again, getting Herioux and Montgomery Pepin to swing and miss for strike three and seal the win.

Lamarche allowed two runs (one earned) off five hits with three walks and 16 strikeouts in seven innings of work. Engebretson finished 3-for-3 with two RBI.

“(Pepin) throws hard, so she’s going to supply the power a lot of the time,” Engebretson said. “It’s just about wrapping your bat around (the ball). I was able to do that.”

Pepin took the loss for the Braves, allowing five earned runs off eight hits with seven walks and five strikeouts. Lauren Sundquist finished 2-for-4 with a home run, RBI and run scored. Trombley finished 2-for-3.

Escanaba 13, Gladstone 3

Similar to game one, the Braves struck early on Esky’s pitching. A RBI fielder’s choice from Rylee Gerow and a two-run double from Allie Larson off of Esky junior Maddy Mott gave the purple and white a 3-0 lead.

But similar to game one, Esky clapped back. And this time it was in a big way.

Boutilier, Carly Bowden, Engebretson and Mott earned RBI hits to give the orange and black a 4-3 lead entering the second stanza.

Mott retired the Braves in order in the second. Gerow got two quick outs with a flyout and striking out Boutilier, but back-to-back singles from Coolman and Bowden put ducks on the pond for Lamarche, who delivered a RBI single for a 5-3 lead. Katey Lamb followed her up with a RBI double for a 6-3 lead.

Engebretson drew a walk to load the bases. Landry Bray, filling in for Mott, drew a walk to drive in a run.

Then Clara Braun cranked a 2-1 pitch to left field for a three-run double and a 10-3 Eskymo lead.

Lamarche hit a RBI double in the bottom of the third to make it an 11-3 lead. Then Lamb came up to bat.

After blasting three home runs on Saturday, including two in one inning against Lowell, the junior found herself in a battle for the ages against Pepin.

On the 11th pitch of the bat Lamb made contact. She went opposite field for a home run and a 13-3 Esky lead.

“(Pepin) kept moving me around,” Lamb said. “I was trying to (fight) those pitches off. Then she gave me a good one at the end.”

Mott was credited with the win, allowing three runs off three hits with two walks and a strikeout. Bray tossed three shutout innings of relief, allowing one hit with two walks and two strikeouts. Bowden finished 3-for-3 with three runs scored and a RBI. Lamb finished 2-for-3 with a home run, double, three RBI and two runs scored. LaMarche finished 2-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and two RBI. McInerney finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Boutilier was 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and run scored. Braun finished 1-for-2 with a double and three RBI.

Gerow took the loss for Gladstone, allowing 10 runs off 10 hits with two walks and a strikeout. Pepin allowed three runs off sive hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Sam Drielick, Larson, Trombley and Herioux earned a base hit each.

Esky hits the road to face Negaunee at 4 p.m. Wednesday.


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