Prep baseball: Braves’ blistering bats rout Cougars

GLADSTONE – Sam Pouliot and Hunter Garling led their team at the plate and Christian Groleau did some nice work on the mound as the Gladstone Braves rolled to a 21-4, 12-1 baseball doubleheader sweep of Superior Central, Monday evening.

With temperatures in the high 40s and very windy conditions, fielding was difficult. Batting, perhaps not so much. The Braves piled on the offense and ran the bases well in the dual victories.

Pouliot went 3-for-3 in the nightcap with three doubles. Hunter Garling ripped off a single, a double and had a sac-groundout and Justin Justin Jurek hit an RBI triple and also reached base on an error, allowing a run to score. Freshman Ben Schwalbach had a nice at bat where he drew a walk, then stole second and third, before scoring on a passed ball.

“Ben has been such a pleasant surprise as a freshman. He continues to play good defense, he hits the ball well, and it was the same thing tonight,” said Braves manager Don Lauscher. “Sam, the last 3-4 games has been stepping it up and hitting the ball well, Justin Jurek too. We’re going to need that down the road, seniors and juniors stepping up.”

Groleau threw a 3-hitter over the five inning game, striking out seven and walking one.

“Christian’s mechanics weren’t the best when he started out, but he got stronger as the game went on, and finished strong,” said Lauscher. “He did a nice job.”

The Braves led 3-1 after two innings as Cougars ace Cody Maki kept things manageable, including a 1-2-3 second inning. At the plate, he picked up a first inning RBI, knocking in Matt Maki

“Cody Maki is a very quality pitcher,” said Lauscher. “He has a really good curveball and he kept our kids off balance at first. We caught up to him later on. We like to face him because he is a quality athlete and a quality pitcher.”

Maki was relieved after the third inning with the Braves leading 7-1. Gladstone then put up five more runs in the fourth off Nick Goings.

The Braves scored early and often in the first game. Garling had a 3-hit game with two singles and double, as well as a walk, and Pouliot was 2-for-2 with two walks. Christian Tackman also had two hits.

Drake Draze picked up the win for Gladstone, pitching four innings and giving up four hits while striking out seven and walking one.

“For the little bit that we’ve pitched him, Drake has been pitching very well,” said Lauscher. “I’m very happy with his outing today.”

Gladstone played in similar weather in a game last week against Negaunee, but still the offensive onslaught took Lauscher a little by surprise.

“I thought we came out a little sluggish in the first game, with an error or two, but the kids got their focus back and we hit the ball well,” said Lauscher. “I was a little surprised that under the cold and windy conditions, that we hit the ball as well as we did. I’m very pleased with the effort and outcome of the games.

“The wind was a big factor in some of our hits. They (SC) misplayed a few, but with that wind howling, that was a big factor for both sides today.”

Superior Central (1-9) is scheduled to play a twinbill at Houghton, Wednesday night.

Gladstone (9-1) is scheduled to host Escanaba tonight for a single game, however the game is very much in doubt with the dubious forecast calling for heavy rain.

“They’re talking a 90 percent chance of rain and up to an inch,” said Lauscher. “It’s probably not going to happen, but that’s one that we have to make sure we reschedule. The kids are looking forward to it and I’m sure Esky is too. We don’t want to pass up the opportunity to play them, so we’ll make sure we get it rescheduled.”