Cubs, Indians set for Gregg Johnson Memorial Tournament

ESCANABA – An exciting weekend of American Legion baseball is on tap in Delta County as the Escanaba Cubs and Gladstone Indians host the Gregg Johnson Memorial tournament.

Gladstone puts its nine-game winning streak on the line Friday, hosting the Eastern U.P. Travelers of Sault Ste. Marie at 5:30 p.m. and Petoskey at 8.

“Any team coached by Billy Mitchell and Greg Rambo will be a tough team,” Gladstone manager Jim Groleau said of the Travelers. “They’re very disciplined. They’ll be ready to play.

“We’re on a pretty good roll right now. Most of the kids are back from last year and they’ve had success in this tournament. We’re looking forward to trying to repeat what we did last year.”

The Indians, who reached the semifinals of last year’s event, then host two-time defending champ DePere, Wis. Saturday at 4:45, followed by a contest with Plover, Wis. at 7.

“There are no slouches in this tournament,” said Groleau. “We’ll have to win at least two ball games and maybe three to reach the semifinals. We’ll have to play error free on defense and execute perfectly on offense in order to still be playing on Sunday.”

Esky, which finished 1-3 in a tourney at Green Bay last weekend, hosts Chief Pontiac Friday at 5:30 and Sault, Ont. at 8.

On Saturday, the Cubs host Marquette Blue at 4:45 and Midland Berryhill at 7.

“It’s a tough draw,” said Esky manager Tom Ohman. “We know that Midland Berryhill has one of the best teams in the state, and Chief Pontiac is very well coached and has good hitters. You have to play a clean game to give yourself a chance to win.”

Sunday’s semifinals are set for 10 a.m. at both fields, with the championship game following at 1 in Escanaba.

Ben Kleiman’s three-hitter led Esky in its lone victory at Green Bay, a 3-0 conquest of Marinette.

“Ben did a fabulous job on the hill last weekend,” said Ohman. “He had a perfect outing. Overall, we had one good game down there. Otherwise, we didn’t play well in all phases of the game. Yet, the kids have responded with very good practices. They’ve been very intense and did a nice job. I know they’re excited for this weekend.

“This tournament is always fun for the fans and it’s good for the communties. Without the support of both communities, we wouldn’t be able to hold this tournament. Traveling teams stay in motels and their kids get a chance to bond. The Escanaba Cubs organization also appreciates the Pioneer Motor Inn putting up the umpires.”

Gladstone (11-7) is fresh from sweeping to 7-4 and 10-0 (in five innings) victories over Channing in Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Justin Jurek recorded 14 strikeouts in Tuesday’s opener and Hunter Garling fired a two-hitter in the nightcap.