Indians finish what they started, win 6-0

GLADSTONE – One can only imagine what was going through Justin Jurek’s mind for 48 hours prior to the continuation of an American Legion baseball game Thursday night.

Gladstone had the bases loaded with two out and held a 1-0 lead over Marquette Blue in the bottom of the fourth inning Tuesday night when he was coming to bat.

Then the rains came, forcing the remainder of the contest to be suspended until Thursday.

When the game resumed, Jurek delivered by drilling a single to leftfield, igniting a five-run outburst which provided the Indians with a 6-0 triumph.

“We were only up by a run, so I knew I had to come up big,” said Jurek. “The situation coming up never left my mind. But I was hitting the ball well in practice on Wednesday, which was definitely a confidence boost.”

Jurek’s single was the first of four straight for the Indians, who clinched second place in the Mid-Peninsula League and ended Marquette’s eight-game winning streak.

Hunter Garling followed with a RBI single to right, putting Gladstone (24-17-1) up 3-0. Cody Frazer then gave the Indians a four-run cushion on an infield single.

Gladstone concluded the scoring moments later on Hayden Hardwick’s two-run single to left-center.

“The kids were on a mission coming in here,” said Gladstone assistant coach Robert Hardwick. “They all came ready to play. Our hitting is coming around. The guys have been working hard in practice and it’s starting to show.”

The Indians collected eight hits, including two each by Frazer and Lucas LaCosse, who drove in the first run on Tuesday.

Jurek fired a three-hitter and retired all nine hitters he faced on Thursday. He finished with five strikeouts and allowed one walk.

“I definitely had a nice cushion to work with,” said Jurek. “My teammates really helped me out. My arm was tender, but it didn’t hurt too bad. Although, it got tight in the end.”

The victory also enabled the Indians to gain an opening-round bye in this weekend’s league tournament at Channing.

Also, Christian Groleau will be available this weekend after all, despite re-injuring his knee on Tuesday.

“We have four pitchers ready to go,” said Hardwick. “We’re in pretty good shape right now.”

Riley Lynch, who pitched 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday, absorbed the loss. He fanned three, walked four, hit a batter and gave up four runs on three hits. Ryan Walther relieved.

“It would have been easy for us to not come down here,” said 15th-year manager Derek Swajanen, noting the Blues (28-15) won 7-2 at Hancock on Wednesday. “We were flat. Yet, we just have to put it in perspective. This is the youngest team we’ve had. A lot of people felt we’d be below .500, but we moved some kids around and won eight in a row against good teams. I have no complaints about our effort. These kids have done a pretty good job all year.

“I thought the Gladstone kids did a good job tonight. They had some timely hitting and their pitcher did a nice job. He was around the plate.”

The Blues, who earned the regular-season league title, also have a first-round bye in this weekend’s tourney.