Taking care of business

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone Major Boys’ Little League (age 11-12) All-Stars scored early and often Monday night, paving the way for a 16-2 baseball rout of Escanaba in four innings.

Gladstone, taking advantage of two walks and a throwing error with two out in the first inning, gained a 3-0 lead. The winners then added four runs in the second, three in the third and six in the fourth.

“The kids were focused,” said Gladstone manager Erick Hansen. “We’ve been going seven days a week for the past four weeks. This is a big rivalry. We have no trouble getting up for a game like this.”

The victory sends Gladstone into today’s 7 p.m. contest against Munising at Howes Family Field. The winner advances to this weekend’s District 10 tourney at Iron Mountain. Esky faces Tri-County in an elimination game today at 5.

“We got two outs on our first two pitches,” said Esky manager Pete Schlenvogt. “The walks and error really hurt us. We should have been able to get out of that inning without giving up a run.”

Justin Malmstead scored Gladstone’s first run on Esky’s lone error. Cole Hansen then ripped a double to leftfield and Drake Forrest added a single to left, driving in a run each and putting Gladstone up by three.

“I called for a steal at third,” said manager Hansen. “Their catcher then threw the ball into the outfield and that got us our first run. It was important to get on the board first. When you can do that, it tends to put some pressure on your opponent.”

Esky missed an excellent scoring chance in the bottom of the first when Ayden Hanson and Jacob Anderson drilled back-to-back singles to right with one out.

Gladstone starter Zach Hanson then retired the next two hitters, forcing Esky to leave baserunners at second and third.

“The first inning was huge for close calls,” said Schlenvogt. “For example, Noah Lancour laid down a nice bunt along the third-base line and was called out at first. Why some the calls went the way did, I don’t know. We could have had some momentum coming out of that inning. Although, that doesn’t change the fact they scored 16 runs.”

Zach Hanson collected three of Gladstone’s 17 hits, including an RBI triple to center in the fourth. Ean Terrian, who finished 2-for-2, cracked an RBI triple to left in the second and rapped a solo home run to left in the third. Cole Alworden, Cole Hansen and Malmstead also had two hits apiece, with Alworden ripping a two-run triple to center in the second.

“Our (starting) No. 9 hitter got two big hits,” said manager Hansen. “Everybody wants to be the No. 1 or 2 hitter, but we tell the kids to keep a positive attitude and look what it did for him (Terrian).”

Taylor Geyer scored Esky’s first run on Jayden Gravelle’s double to left. Gravelle then finished the scoring on a passed ball.

Jacob Anderson had two of Esky’s four hits, including a leadoff line shot to the pitcher’s box which struck Malmstead’s wrist in the fourth.

Malmstead, the third of four Gladstone pitchers at the time, is believed to have suffered a bruise in the mishap.

Zach Hanson, the first of four Esky pitchers, absorbed the loss.

“Gladstone is a very good team,” said Schlenvogt. “Their kids have been playing all-stars and travel ball together for two years. All their kids can hit and they know their positions. We’ve been playing together for about two weeks and have some kids playing out of position. Some of the kids in our league also play travel ball, but chose not to play all-stars.”