Gladstone Indians roar back to win state American Legion baseball title

MENOMINEE — The Gladstone Indians knew they had their work cut out going into last weekend’s games in the Class A state American Legion baseball tournament.

That’s because Gladstone dropped a 9-7 decision to Menominee Red Wave on Friday night, meaning it needed to win three games to retain its title.

The Indians found a way to get it done, posting an 11-4 triumph over Red Wave on Sunday for their third state championship in five years.

Gladstone (27-6) got back on track Saturday, hanging on for a 6-4 victory over Gaylord before rallying past the Red Wave 9-7 to force Sunday’s matchup.

“Our defense and pitching came through,” Indians’ manager Justin Jurek said. “This is similar to last year. We lost to them right away and had to come back through the loser’s bracket. We didn’t have many guys left to pitch and the extra game on Saturday made it all the more challenging.”

This marked the third straight runner-up finish for Menominee (14-15), which fell to the Indians 15-2 in last year’s title game.

Gladstone sent 11 hitters to the plate and scored six times in the first inning Sunday.

“The kids’ heads went down a little after that,” said Menominee manager John Lauzer. “We told them to try to win every inning. Unfortunately, we did not do that. From one to nine, they (Indians) can all hit.”

Braeden Lamberg, the tourney’s Most Valuable Player, opened the scoring on Tyson Seymour’s triple to left and Cooper Cavadeas added a two-run double to center in the opening frame.

Menominee threatened in its half of the first, but failed to score and left the bases loaded.

The Red Wave then scored on a bases-loaded walk to Kyle Struve during a similar threat in the third, but again left the bases full.

Gladstone responded with a pair of runs in the fourth and made it 10-1 on a two-run error by shortstop Jason Janquart in the fifth.

The Indians collected nine hits, led by Lamberg, Cavadeas and Caden Alworden with two each. The Red Wave finished with eight, including two apiece by Janquart, Struve and Matt Delfosse.

Gladstone’s Ian Schwalbach pitched the first 2 2/3 innings, but began to struggle after a 28-minute rain delay. He struck out two, walked five and gave up a run on three hits. Reliever Riley Bouldovski then fanned two, walked one and allowed three runs on five hits through the final 4 1/3 frames.

Alex Hanson, the first of three Menominee pitchers, faced just nine hitters and absorbed the loss.

Menominee took a 6-4 lead on Janquart’s single to right in the sixth inning of Saturday’s contest.

The Indians then got six of their 10 hits and scored five times for a 9-6 lead in their half of the sixth, including a pair of runs on Cody Frappier’s double to left.

Zach Hanson took the win in relief of Dan Martin, who got struck in the left eye while batting when the pitch bounced off his foot in the third. Teagan Monroe took the loss in relief of Janquart, who reached his pitch count limit after 4 2/3 innings.