Dreaded walk-off walk: Gladstone hands Marquette Blues first loss, 6-5
“They say baseball is a game of inches, and that’s what this game boiled down to.” — DEREK SWAJANEN, manager, Marquette Blues
GLADSTONE — The Gladstone Indians picked up their first win of the season and handed the Marquette Blues their first loss with a 6-5 decision Thursday night in the Upper Peninsula Under-19 Baseball League.
The win came when Gladstone’s Zach Hanson was walked with the bases loaded and the score tied 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“It feels good to get a win,” Indians manager Justin Jurek said after his team improved to 1-2. “Getting that first one out of the way takes a little bit of stress off the guys. It’s definitely a good morale booster.”
It was completely on Gladstone’s shoulders as the game entered the bottom of the seventh.
“Last time we played them, we gave up six runs, and five of them, we walked in,” Blues manager Derek Swajanen said after his team fell to a still sterling 7-1. “These five runs, they were all with two outs and on borderline pitches that could’ve struck them out.
“This game could’ve easily been a 7-0 game. They say baseball is a game of inches, and that’s what this game boiled down to.”
Riley Baldovski started the Indians’ late rally by doubling on a fly to left field, and Ryan Polley reached first base on an infield grounder after some defensive indecision from the Blues, who couldn’t decide who to try to throw out.
Blake Krouth then drew a walk to load the bases before Zach Hanson drew the game-ending base on balls.
“I think making more routine plays on defense (helped us turn the game in our favor today),” Jurek said. “We only had an error or two, so we made most of our routine plays on defense. We had good at-bats even if we struck out more than I’d like. We executed offensively a little better than we have in the past.”
After the Indians broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth, the Blues matched it in the top half of the fifth to make it 1-1.
In Gladstone’s half of the fifth, a walk and two hits loaded the bases, with Hanson drawing a base-loaded walk to push Drake Forrest across for a 2-1 advantage. Caden Alworden then doubled on a deep fly to center field, allowing Hanson, Polley and Baldovski to score for a 5-1 lead.
Marquette retied it in the top of the sixth. The big hit was Kyle Frusti’s three-run homer to left field after two earlier hits made it 5-4.
A single by the Blues’ Brendan Kaski prompted a Gladstone pitching change from Parker Frappier to Trevor Hanson.
A double and two walks loaded the bases and spelt the end of Trevor Hanson’s time on the mound as another Hanson, Zach Hanson, took his place.
Marquette’s Jon Jason hit a grounder, but the fielder’s choice allowed Gladstone catcher Dan Martin to tag out Jakob Peterson on his way home. A strikeout finished the top of the sixth with the game tied 5-5.
Frappier started and 5 1/3 innings for the Indians as he allowed 13 hits, five runs and one walk while striking out three.
Blake Henriksen started for the Blues, going six innings and allowing five hits, five runs and two walks while fanning seven.
Alworden led the Indians with three RBIs and two hits, and Zach Hanson picked up two RBIs. Baldovksi and Polley collected two hits apiece, and Dayton Bernson had a hit and RBI.
“We always have a good battle with (Marquette),” Jurek said. “It’s never a blowout one way or another. It’s always fun playing them.
“(To build on this momentum) we just have to keep learning from our games. We’ve been preaching it to the guys these last two weeks. Offensively, defensively, pitching, whatever it is, we’ve got to learn something and apply it to our next game.”
Frusti finished with three RBIs and a hit to lead the Blues, while Jason, Peterson and Clayton Smith all finished with three hits apiece. Henriksen and Peter VandenAvond both picked up an RBI.
“We didn’t get the key hits when we could’ve, and it seems like that’s been following us for a year and a half,” Swajanen said. “We got more barrels today. We hit the ball harder.
“We’re getting more and more every game and you could build upon that. Even if we’re getting out, we’re hitting the ball hard. I can still work with that.
“You’ve just got to work out the kinks. Sometimes you learn more from a loss than you do from a victory.”
The Blues play a doubleheader at the Ishpeming Blue Storm at 6 p.m. today.