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Monday June 5, 2023
Escanaba Cubs Beat Clinton, Gladstone In Trenton

Click the thumbnails above for photos, videos, and interviews from the games

This story was written and pictures and videos were taken by RRN Intern Braden Kerr

The Escanaba Cubs advanced to the final day of the American Legion Class A state tournament by beating Clinton, 6-3, and then holding off Gladstone, 14-12, at Trenton High School. Earlier, Gladstone stayed alive by knocking out Gaylord, 9-3.
Both teams lost on Thursday to put themselves into the loser’s bracket and start the uphill battle back to the championship game. Gladstone wanted to forget all about their 13-3 loss to Clinton while Escanaba lost a tough one 7-5.
After an almost identical start to the game on Thursday the thought on everyone’s mind was, here we go again, but the Indians righted the ship and put Gaylord away late with back-to-back three run innings.
Tyler Darmogray navigated a rocky first two innings totaling 58 pitches before settling in for an almost complete game win for Gladstone. Darmogray pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing three runs, two earned, on just three hits while walking three and stiking out two.
Darmogray knew the team would come ready to play, “We just had to come and play, be ready to play. Yesterday it seemed like we were a little off, but today we just had to make sure because if we lose, we are going home. That’s a long drive.”
Chris Koscielniak and Austin Vanderveer each doubled in the first for Gaylord. Vanderveer drove in a run with the double and two runs scored on Gladstone errors, but that would be all Gaylord would get.
Gaylord loaded the bases in the second inning, but Darmogray got a flyout to right to escape the jam.
Gladstone also struck in the first inning when Darmogray led off with a single and Nick Martin doubled to put two runners on. Cam Kelly hammered a pitch to left field to bring in two runs. Kelly scored when John Soderman got caught in a rundown and Kelly broke for home.
The game remained tied until the fourth inning when Kelly struck again. With the bases loaded Kelly doubled to drive in two runs and break the tie. Soderman laid down the squeeze bunt to score Martin.
“My teammates made it easy, they got on base, and they made it easy to hit them in so credit to them,” Kelly said of his opportunities at the plate.
The Indians tacked on three more runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach.
Darmogray racked up three hits, three runs, and drove in a run and Kelly had two hits and drove in four.
Coach Scott Kwarciany kept it simple after the game, “When you keep things clean this is the kind of results that they get.”
The Indians advanced and awaited their next opponent in another elimination game. Escanaba and Clinton played in the second game to determine the matchup.
ESCANABA 6 vs. CLINTON 3 --- Escanaba’s big second inning and an impressive performance from Bon LaChance on the mound fueled the Cubs to victory over Clinton.
In the big inning Parker Frappier and Ben Johnson reached on errors then Matt Kaven drove a ball into right center field to score two runs. Eli Gardner singled to score Kaven and with two outs and two on, LaChance hit a double to the wall to drive in two more and open a 6-0 lead.
LaChance struggled to find the zone early walking four batters and hitting another in the first two innings of work. LaChance workerd around the base runners by striking out five batters in the first two innings. All three of the next innings were sat down in order by LaChance as he had found his rhythm.
Tom Burt singled up the middle in the sixth inning for Clinton’s first hit of the game. Burt scored when Cade Brighton shot a ball up the middle off the shortstops glove that rolled all the way to the wall and Brighton would coast into second. Brighton scored on a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-2.
Clinton scored one more in the seventh inning when Ben Kennedy tripled, and Brenden drove him in with a double. Eli Gardner came on to pitch the seventh and got a double play ball to end the game.
Matt Kaven had two hits and drove in two runs and LaChance drove in three runs on two hits to lead the Cubs.
Kaven said of the Gladstone matchup, “I’m not a huge Gladstone fan, you know it’s a big rivalry. So hopefully my stick stays hot, and I play some tight D and we can get this victory.”
Escanaba continued their state tournament in another elimination matchup with Gladstone.
ESCANABA 14 vs. GLADSTONE 12--- The Gladstone Indians took an early 6-1 lead before the Cubs came roaring back with a 10 run fifth inning to take a 14-6 lead. The Indians made a valiant attempt scoring six runs in the last two innings to cut the lead to two. The Cubs shut down the late inning rally to escape with the victory.
The Indians grabbed an early lead when Tyler Darmogray singled and scored on a Cam Kelly single, but they did real damage in the second inning. With one run already scored and a runner on the top of the lineup hit three consecutive doubles to stretch the lead to five.
“We needed to get our crap together. We needed to pick up our game and hit the ball and simmer down on our errors,” Parker Frappier said of the teams mindset down early.
Escanaba got on the board scoring on a Nick Chiu groundout in the third. Ben Johnson singled home a run to cut the lead to three in the third inning. Escanaba put pressure on and scored a run in a first and third when Nick Chiu came across on a steal.
The big inning started with a walk and Ben Johnson singled to left and the ball got passed the left fielder to allow Parker Frappier to come all the way around to score. Matt Kaven smacked a pitch to left field to drive in Johnson and even the game at 6.
Jack McEvers came to the plate in a bases loaded situation and nearly put a ball over the fence but had to settle for a bases-clearing go ahead double.
“Yeah, that was one of the biggest hits of my life. Really, I’m thinking just hit the ball somewhere and then I saw the fastball go low and I’m like yeah, I gotta drive that.” Jack McEvers on his big hit.
Things started to unravel for Gladstone as four errors and a couple hits later the Indians found themselves on the wrong side of a 14-6 game that they were leading at the start of the inning.
“You let a team put up ten runs in an inning, that’s really hard to come back from, but credit our players. They made it a game either way at the end,” Kwarciany said.
In the sixth inning the Indians scored two runs on a fielder’s choice to cut into the eight-run lead.
Going into the last inning emotions ran hot on the field, but it seemed to light a fire under the Gladstone players. Facing elimination, the players would not go down without a fight.
Gladstone drew four walks to bring home a run and have the bases loaded. Soderman singled to right field and all three runners came around to score and bring the tying run to the plate.
The Cubs breathed a sigh of relief as Nick Kolich got a first pitch fly-out to shut the door and earn the save.
Seven Cubs players had multiple RBI in the shootout while only three Indians drove in runs.
Johnny Soderman drove in five runs for the Indians and had a hit and Tyler Darmogray and Nick Martin both drove in two runs.
Jack McEvers led the way with three RBI and Ben Johnson, Matt Kaven, and Nick Chiu each had a pair of runs batted in. Chase Cloutier collected three hits and Johnson scored three times to pace the Cubs.
Escanaba head coach Jon Bintner said of his team’s flair for the dramatic, “I don’t know why we pick the route we do all the time. We don’t make things easy, and when you think you got it easy it becomes hard.”
Both teams held big leads that they saw quickly fade away thanks to some hot hitting from the opposition. Escanaba was able to better stay steady and in control than Gladstone and that proved to be the difference in the game. The Cubs did not allow the big inning to turn into the monster inning the way Gladstone did.
Gladstone ends their season on a loss to the rival Cubs in the state tournament. The Indians flushed the memories of the Clinton game and came out and competed at a high level playing Gladstone baseball. The team ran wild on the bases and put pressure on defenses. Even a familiar opponent like Esky was not immune to the Indians style.
Escanaba advances to the semifinals to play Marquette in a de facto UP State Championship game on Saturday morning. The winner of that game will play the hosts Trenton in a championship game later on.
The Escanaba vs. Marquette game will be live on 100.3 The Point FM, 93.5 FM, 600 AM, and online at rrnsports.com.

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