Ballard leads Braves over Redmen 10-2

GLADSTONE – The bats became much warmer than the weather in late innings for the Gladstone Braves Thursday as they posted 10-2 baseball victory over the Marquette Redmen.

Gladstone tallied five runs in the sixth, including four on Blake Ballard’s grand slam home run.

Sam Pouliot’s single then finished the scoring before lightning and heavy rain halted the contest and washed out the second game of a scheduled doubleheader.

“That was an absolute missle,” Braves’ manager Don Lauscher said of Ballard’s shot, the first homer by a Gladstone player in a high school game since 1959. “Wind or no wind, that was way over the fence. All the guys were pretty excited about that. Blake had never hit a home run before. He has really been working hard with his hitting and today he was rewarded. We didn’t start very strong, but got the bats going in the fifth and sixth inning.”

The Braves grabbed an early 2-0 lead on a fielding error on this windy day in which the temperatures hovered in the upper 30s.

Marquette sliced its deficit in half on a single by Jake Phillips in the top of the second.

Gladstone responded with three runs in its half of the second. Justin Jurek’s two-run single put the Braves up 4-1. Ballard’s single then made it 5-1.

Brandon Latterman’s solo shot trimmed Marquette’s deficit to 5-1 in the fourth. The Braves, however, didn’t allow the Redmen to get any closer.

Winning pitcher Christian Tackman tossed a three-hitter, struck out eight and walked five.

“Christian wasn’t as sharp as in his last outing, but he still pitched well,” said Lauscher. “Our defense played well. Jake Peterson made a nice diving catch on a flyball in the second inning. Also, our catching has gotten much better. Although, we still have a way to go. Slowly, but surely we’re getting better. This is a new program with three new coaches. It’s an adjustment for the kids and the coaches.”

Gabe Apple, who pitched the first two innings, absorbed the loss. He allowed five runs on eight hits, walked two and hit two batters. Phillips relieved in the third, giving up five runs on six hits.

“Both of their pitchers threw a lot of strikes,” said Lauscher. “They kept us off balance. I thought they pitched very well.”

This was to be Parent’s Night at Gladstone. Those activities, however, have been rescheduled for Monday when the Braves host Norway in a twinbill.

The Braves, however, must first turn their attention to Escanaba Lions Invitational on Saturday. They face Negaunee at 10 a.m., with Esky hosting Marquette at 12:30 p.m. The consolation game is scheduled for 3, followed by the title contest at 5:30.