Prep baseball: Braves cash in early, clip Knights

GLADSTONE – Scoring opportunities were plentiful for the Gladstone Braves Wednesday.

And they cashed in on just enough of those to gain a 5-1 baseball victory over the Norway Knights at Don Olsen Field.

The Braves, who scored four times in the first inning, left the bases loaded twice and stranded 14 baserunners in the nine-inning contest.

Gladstone played without Christian Groleau and Christian Tackman, who were on their way to St. Louis for the world robotics championships.

Everybody in uniform played for both teams on this sunny and seasonably cool evening.

“Tonight, we started four freshmen and they came through,” said Braves’ manager Don Lauscher. “Our freshmen really played well tonight. The only down side is we left a lot of guys on base. We didn’t get the timely hits we usually do.”

Tom Bailey scored Gladstone’s first run on a fielding error. The Braves then gained a three-run cushion on Ben Schwalbach’s two-run single to leftfield and made it 4-0 on Drake Draze’s single to right-center.

“We had a tough first inning,” said Norway manager Tony Adams. “We made mistakes all the way around. This is the first time we’ve been on a field all year. We got more comfortable with the distances as the game went on. Offensively, we have a lot of work to do.”

Jordan Neumann scored Norway’s first run this season on a single to left by John Edwardson.

Draze finished the scoring on another fielding miscue in Gladstone’s half of the third.

Jake Peterson, who pitched seven innings, earned the victory. He struck out 12, walked none and allowed just three hits.

“Jake was outstanding,” said Lauscher. “Our pitching has absolutely carried us and tonight we continued to pitch well. We also continued to hit the ball well. Only, we need to work on our baserunning and defense.”

Hunter Garling worked the final two frames and fanned four, walked one and hit a batter.

The Braves (5-1) finished with seven hits. Garling, who got on base five times, had two hits as did Nick Trudeau.

“Gladstone has a nice team,” said Adams. “They’re well coached. We have to play better than we did tonight to beat them. Although, the kids didn’t give up. We’re pleased with the effort.”

Mike Faull, the first of four Norway pitchers, worked the first inning and absorbed the loss.

The Knights are scheduled to play at Niagara, Wis. on Friday.

Gladstone’s previously scheduled home games against Rudyard, Friday and Saturday have been cancelled due to impending weather conditions. The Braves will instead travel to Charlevoix, Saturday for a twinbill, which begins at 2 p.m.