Gladstone Gets Revenge, Spoils Esky Title Chances

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Isaac Ketchum, Gavin Frosaard, and both team's managers.

The Gladstone Braves baseball team avenged an earlier-season loss to the rival Escanaba Eskymos Tuesday night, 6-0, at Don Olsen Field. The game was shortened to five innings when heavy rains rolled through the area.

Before the rains came, though, Gladstone scored three runs in both the first and third innings, and Isaac Ketchum threw a two-hitter for the Braves.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Ketchum said. “My pace. I had to keep going. It just felt really fluent. I was throwing strikes. My slider felt really good today. My fastball, up and low. Curveball wasn't on today much, but I was able to get stuff.”

Ketchum, taking advantage of a generous strike zone, retired the first six men he faced, three of them on strikes. Brody Ison led off the third inning with an infield hit and stole second, but he was erased off the bases when he tagged up on a fly ball Nolan Bink.

Gladtsone center fielder Johnny Soderman threw him out for the double play.

Meanwhile, Gladstone hit Eskymo senior pitcher Ben Johnson hard. Casey Alworden led off the game with a single, stole second, then scored on a single by Nate Young.

Gavin Frossard followed with a single and Rex Kelly drew a walk to load the bases. Ketchum was asked to squeeze home a run, but he popped up the bunt attempt. The luck was with the Braves, though, as it landed, and not one, but two runs, came home.

“I thought it was popped up and I thought I was out for sure,” Ketchum said. “I saw Bon (Eskymo first baseman LaChance) in the way, so I tried to get in the way (of LaChance's throw) a little bit. Then, Gav came home, I guess.”

“The bases were loaded, and Ben was pitching out of the wind-up,” Frossard said. “So, I got a big lead (at second base), and the first movement, I was going. I don't know who was in front of me (Young), but I was right on their butt. That was a big play, for sure.”

Frossard added an RBI single in the third inning, Ketchum pushed one through a drawn-in infield to bring another run home, an Trevor Thorbahn had an RBI single to make it 6-0.

“I thought he (Johnson) was going to throw more curveballs,” Frossard said. “Last time we seen him, he threw a lot of curveballs. I don't think I seen one curveball this time. I don't know. He threw me all fastballs.”

Escanaba Manager Scott Hanson says the loss boils down to one thing: hitting.

“Gladstone played real well,” Hanson said. “They hit the ball, and we didn't. They had a real good two-strike approach, and they hit the snot out of the ball. They hit the gaps and we didn't. Benny's been pretty spot-on all year. This is the first team that really hit him.”

And on the other end, it was the sixth time this season that Eskymos were shut out in a game, although this time, Escanaba only got 13 outs to play with because the rains came with one out and two men on base for the Eskymos in the top of the fifth inning.

It was scheduled to be a six-inning game, so it was an official game. But Hanson says this game aside, things have to get better, and quickly, with districts around the corner.

“You've got to play all facets of the game,” Hanson said. “I think we've pitched well this year, I think we're defending fairly well, but if you can't score runs, you're not going to win games, plain and simple. I think we've got some guys who can do some damage at the plate, and we've just got to step it up moving forward.”

It has been frustrating for the Eskymos, with a 13-14 overall record, although, it should be noted, against a very difficult out-of-UP schedule. But Hanson says they haven't been doing the little things right at the plate, even against downstate teams.

“The pitching we saw down in Muskegon last weekend was not great, either,” Hanson said of his team's 3-0 and 5-1 losses to Mona Shores. “We've got to shore up and put the ball in play, because I don't think we had very good at-bats.”

Gladstone Manager Tyler Swanson has seen his team struggle at times this year, mostly because of errors on the defensive end. But his team put it together this time.

“You can't play the game of 'what-ifs' and I'm going to be happy that it finally came together,” Swanson said after his team's record improved to 18-12 on the season. “The frustrating part as a coach as you know what the guys are capable of, if we can just get out of our own way. Finally, we put one together.”

The Braves are out of the Great Northern Conference race after losing twice to Marquette, splitting with Menominee and Kingsford, and now, splitting with Escanaba.

They finish with a 3-5 GNC record, but Tuesday's win also deprived the Eskymos of the chance to clinch a tie for the GNC championship.

Now Kingsford will win the championship outright if the Flivvers beat Menominee on the road Wednesday afternoon. If Menominee wins that game, then Escanaba and Kingsford would be tied again, and Marquette could steal a share of the GNC title if the Sentinels were to beat Menominee in the season finale.

So, did the Braves want to play the role of spoiler?

“Yeah. You use whatever you can as motivation,” Swanson admitted. “Escanaba-Gladstone is always a big game. But, yeah, you push all those buttons to try to get the guys revved up and ready to go, and they certainly were today. Congratulations to Kingsford. We had two good match-ups with them.”

The five GNC team managers will meet in Escanaba on Wednesday morning to determine the award-winners for the conference season.

Both the Eskymos and Braves have big con-conference games Thursday night against strong teams. Gladstone will travel to Green Bay to face the Preble Hornets (10-14) at the Joannes Stadium, and the Eskymos will host the Norway Knights (20-2-1) under the lights at Al Ness Field.

LISTEN: Tyler Swanson post-game comments
LISTEN: Gavin Frossard post-game comments
LISTEN: Isaac Ketchum post-game comments
LISTEN: Scott Hanson post-game comments