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Indians win back-and-forth battle over Cubs

Gladstone Indians pitcher Isaac Ketchum fires a pitch while losing his hat during a game against the Escanaba Cubs on June 20, 2024 at Al Ness Field in Escanaba. (Adam Hinch/Daily Press)

ESCANABA — A see-saw battle went Gladstone’s way in a 7-6 American Legion baseball victory over the Escanaba Cubs here Thursday night.

There were four lead changes in the opening game of the Gregg Johnson/Al Erickson Memorial tournament at Al Ness Field.

Gladstone (3-0) took the lead for good by scoring three times for a 7-5 lead in the fifth.

“It’s always a good game when we play them,” Indians’ manager Joe Darmogray said. “Escanaba has a good hitting team. We started a little slow hitting, but I think they got a little frustrated when we started hitting the ball.”

Esky led 5-4 after pushing three runs across in the fourth.

Gladstone, however, regained the lead on a two-run double to leftfield by Trevor Thorbahn in the fifth and gained its two-run cushion on Casey Alworden’s single to left.

“It comes down to timely hitting,” Esky manager Jon Bintner said. “It seems like the other teams are getting the two-out hits and we don’t seem to be getting those. It seemed like we were hitting the ball at people. I’m not really disappointed in the effort, only we have a long road to get to Sunday (semifinals and finals). Overall, we’re not that far away.”

The Cubs (0-3), who dropped their third straight one-run decision, got within 7-6 on Ashtyn Rymkos’ single to center in the sixth before Isaiah Brow retired them in order in the seventh.

Gladstone, taking advantage of a walk and fielding error, opened the scoring in the second.

Bon LaChance tied the score on a bases-loaded walk and Ryan Blixt’s infield single gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in their half of the second.

Alworden knotted the contest on a wild pitch before the Indians took a 3-2 lead on Isaac Ketchum’s infield single.

The Indians then capitalized a throwing error and wild pitch while adding a run in the fourth.

Matt Kaven got Esky within 4-3 on a balk in its half of the fourth. The Cubs pulled even on Nick Chiu’s single to right and took a 5-4 lead on Adrian Mercier’s single to left.

Both teams collected eight hits. Esky, however, committed three errors and Gladstone had none.

“Errors, walks and hit batters hurt us,” Bintner said. “After you score runs, you got to get out there and shut teams down. Walks, errors and hit batters hurt us. You can’t afford to give up extra bases. It seemed like every time there was an error they scored.”

Brow, who pitched 3.33 innings in relief of Ketcham, took the win. He struck out one, walked four and allowed two hits. Ketcham fanned two, walked three and gave up five runs on six hits.

“I think our guys pitched well,” Darmogray said. “I was going to bring Ty in during the seventh inning, but Isaiah was able to retire them in order which made for a short inning. The kids played real well.”

Lucas Hall, who worked the final three frames, took the loss. He walked one, hit a batter and gave up three runs on four hits. LaChance fanned eight, walked three, hit two batters and allowed four runs on four hits through four innings.

Ketcham collected three hits for the Indians, who hosted Niagara, Wis. Friday night. They host Plover, Wis. today at 3 p.m. and Marinette at 7:30 and a semifinal game Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

The Cubs host Marinette today at 4 and Niagara at 6:15 and a semifinal contest Sunday at 11 a.m.

Today’s contests will be played under a two-hour time limit.

Sunday’s championship game takes place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in Escanaba.

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