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Tuesday July 7, 2020
DOING THE SPLITS: Eskymos, Braves Swap Wins

GLADSTONE---The Escanaba Eskymos scored three runs in the first inning to beat the Gladstone Braves in high school softball on Monday, 3-0, in Gladstone.

But the Braves rallied from four runs down to take the nightcap, 8-5.

Escanaba won the opener on the strentth of a three-run first inning. Lexi Chaillier led off with a triple, and after a bunt by Maddy Block, Salo helped her own cause with an RBI single to make it 1-0.

A Nicole Kamin groundout scored the second run, then Jalin Olson dumped a run-scoring single into center field to make it a 3-0 lead.

Escanaba would not get another base hit the rest of the game, and would get only one baserunner, as Andie Balenger settled down on the mound. She threw four innings, then Morgan Letteriello tossed three scoreless innings in relief.

But Gladstone simply couldn't hit Escanaba ace Gabi Salo, who threw another no hitter, striking out 13 batters. The only thing that prevented her second straight perfect game against the Braves was a fourth inning walk to Sydney Herioux.

In the nightcap, Escanaba again jumped to a 3-0 lead against Balenger. Chaillier had an RBI single, Kamin bunted home another run, and Salo singled home the third run. But the script would be vastly different from there with Kamin in the circle for Escanaba.

The Eskymos actually took a 4-0 lead in the third inning, but the Braves tied it up with four runs in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally.

Letteriello had the big hit in that inning, a two-run single. Natalie Hansen also had a run-scoring hit in that inning.

Escanaba stranded the bases full in the top of the fourth inning, then in the bottom half, the Braves scored three more runs. Taylor Trudeau and Herioux both had doubles in that rally, and Kamin was removed from the mound, with Salo coming in.

Escanaba got a run back in the fifth inning, but Balenger buckled down, and worked scoreless sixth and seventh innings. The icing on the cake for Gladstone came when Jenna Tardiff was able to catch up to a Salo pitch and smoke it to the left field fence.

Eskymo left fielder Georgia Lehto was injured on the play, and as she lay on the ground, Tardiff raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

Balenger pitched a complete game win for the Braves, who improve to 22-4 on the season. Escanaba's record fell to 15-2 as Kamin was tagged with her first loss.

The two teams will meet in another doubleheader next Tuesday in Escanaba.

HONORING SMITTY---The dedication of a placque and flagpole at the Gladstone softball Field to honor Jerry Smith, the longtime Gladstone Braves coach who won 321 games and two state championships as the head coach from 2002-2013. Smith passed away last year.

His widow Nora and other family members were on hand for Tuesday afternoon’s ceremony before the Braves played the Escanaba Eskymos. The new plaque commemorates his accomplishments and is located underneath the flagpole that sits between the varsity and JV fields, near the concession stand building.

Click the thumbnails in the ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS box above to see photos and videos taken by Nate Belleville and Johnny Schlenvogt. Also, listen to post-game comments from Balenger.

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