Esky boys off to states after 18-1 rout
ESCANABA – It’s on to Lower Michigan next week for the Escanaba nine and 10-year-old boys’ Little League All-Stars as they earned the District 10 baseball title in an 18-1 rout over Menominee in five innings Friday night.
The victory sends Esky to state tournament at Grand Rapids where it will open against the host team Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Esky secured the title by scoring nine times in the fifth, taking advantage of seven walks and an error.
“Before the game we talked about being patient at the plate,” said Esky manager Darren Bray. “We chased a few pitches early, otherwise the kids usually do a great job with that.”
Menominee opened the scoring in the first on Brady Badker’s single to centerfield.
Esky responded with five runs in the second, including a two-run single to right-center by Casey Bray, followed by a two-run triple to center by Nathan Howes.
“Menominee came ready to play,” said manager Bray. “They had the momentum early, but the five runs in the second inning swung the momentum our way. The kids prepared well for this game. We had probably our best practice all year on Thursday. Yet, we probably weren’t quite as ready to play as we were the first time we played them (in a 14-1 triumph on Wednesday).”
Esky, taking advantage of four walks and an error, added four runs in the fourth.
“We were down to our fifth and sixth pitchers and the wheels came off the bus,” said Menominee manager Mark Lesperance. “Although, the kids never gave up. They were very ready to play. Nobody really expected us to get this far and we have to commend our kids for the effort. We took care of business in our area tournament. Escanaba just had our number.”
Esky finished with 10 hits, including two apiece for Jayger LaMarch, Casey Bray, Howes and Stephen Weinert, who cracked a two-run double to left in the fifth.
Casey Bray, who pitched four innings, took the win. He struck out six, walked one and allowed three hits.
In the opening frame, Bray recorded three straight strikeouts after allowing singles to Menominee’s first two hitters.
“Menominee has a lot of good athletes and players,” said manager Bray. “They hit Casey hard in the first inning. I thought their pitcher threw real well in the first inning. We’ve been pretty lucky in this tournament. We haven’t had to go real deep into our pitching.”
Cooper Conway, the first of our Menominee pitchers, worked 3 1/3 innings and absorbed the loss. He fanned four, walked four and gave up seven runs on five hits. The four Menominee hurlers issued a combined 15 walks.
Menominee committed three errors and Esky had two.
“Hats off to Escanaba,” said Lesperance. “Their players are well coached. When they make a mistake, they bounce back and make up for it on the next play.”