STEVENSVILLE — Stevensville Post 568 faced a disappointing end to its season in Sunday’s American Legion Class AA state baseball championship game played at Lakeshore High School.
Post 568 and Gladwin Post 171 battled for a state championship, with Gladwin ultimately coming out on top, 10-5, to claim the state title.
The win didn’t come without a bit of controversy, however.
On Friday, Stevensville and Gladwin met in the winners’ bracket championship, with Gladwin winning and sending Stevensville to the losers’ bracket final against Chief Pontiac Baseball Club.
Stevensville knocked off Pontiac in a back-and-fourth affair Saturday, advancing to the championship in a rematch against Gladwin, a team it would have to beat twice in a double-elimination format to be crowned champions.
That game was played on Saturday, with Stevensville winning 10-6 after falling behind 4-0 in the bottom of the first inning. The final, deciding game was scheduled to be played Sunday at 10 a.m.
However, Gladwin challenged that an ineligible pitcher, Garrett Matthews, entered in relief after Stevensville fell behind 4-0, essentially voiding the rest of the game. Matthews had pitched earlier in the day against Chief Pontiac.
A clear delay for discussion between both teams’ managers and the umpires occurred between the bottom of the first and top of the second in Saturday’s game, with the officials eventually ruling that, because Gladwin hadn’t caught the rule violation as it happened and Matthews finished out the inning, that the game would continue on as normal.
Eventually, Stevensville came back and won, and Gladwin officially submitted its protest the the American Legion, which ruled that the game needed to be replayed from the time Matthews entered the game, which occurred with two outs in the bottom of the first and Gladwin leading 4-0.
“There’s a rule on page 15 in the national handbook that states, if you pitched more than 30 pitches in a previous game that day, then you cannot pitch again until the next day,” Gladwin manager Terry Brokoff said. “That player had pitched 52 or 53 pitches in the earlier game, and that’s what we challenged.”
The game was replayed from that point starting at 9 a.m. Sunday. Gladwin tacked on an extra run following the restart, resulting in a 5-0 hole for Stevensville to work out of.
“It was a tough thing,” Stevensville manager Jeff Bradford said of the protest. “It was an honest mistake made, but ultimately it was ruled that it was an ineligible player, and we had to start this game over.
“It’s tough mentally to know that you’re already down four, and then after the inning five-nothing,” Bradford added. “The kids did a great job. They stayed in it mentally and physically. They had each others’ back. It’s tough to lose like that, but I’m real proud of the kids.”
Stevensville responded with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Jakob Aldrich led off the inning with a single, followed by a pair of singles by Caleb Parrett and Donnie Necas. Necas’ hit scored Aldrich, and Parrett eventually scored on a single from Cam Dalrymple.
Stevensville would leave the bases loaded, however, missing on an opportunity to put a bit of pressure on Gladwin.
Gladwin would score two in the third and one in the fourth to make the score 8-2. Stevensville cut the lead in half with a two-run fifth. Aldrich plated a run after hitting a triple in the inning, and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Logan Miller.
Gladwin would seal the win in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run home run hit by Carson Longstreth. Longstreth was named the tournament’s most valuable player, batting over .400 with five RBIs and two home runs for the weekend.
Reed Raymond pitched all six innings on Sunday for Gladwin, striking out five Stevensville hitters.
“We really hit well. Good pitching, good defense,” said Brokoff. “We’ve been pursuing this for a long time. We’re happy to be state champs. They’ve all been consistent. We’ve been a team that’s been together and supporting each other. That’s what’s really made us a better team this year than we’ve maybe ever had.”
Despite the obvious disappointment to end the year, Bradford said he considers the season a success.
“This whole year really didn’t turn out the way I thought it was going to,” said Bradford. “When we put the roster together, we looked at it, we looked at the schedule we had ahead of us, we looked at how good the teams were, and I really didn’t know what to expect. We looked at it and said, ‘If we have a .500 year we’re going to have a good year.’
“When you put the right group of kids together with the right baseball IQ, and the coaching staff that I have, you put them with this group of kids, it made it easy. These kids came together, they competed every single game, and I can’t be more proud of them.”
As a team, Stevensville batted .412 in the state tournament and had five players, Dalrymple, Aldrich, Miller, Austin Hurt and Caleb Schmitt, bat over .500.
“Everybody came out and competed and played hard, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Bradford.
Gladwin Post 171 advances to the American Legion Baseball Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Charleston, Illinois, starting Aug. 7. Gladwin will play the state champion out of Ohio.
American Legion AA State Baseball Championship
Gladwin 10, Stevensville 5
WP – Reed Raymond 6 IP, 5 K, 4 ER. LP — Nate Necas 2/3 IP, 5 ER.
Top hitters — Stevensville: Cam Dalrymple 1b, RBI; Austin Hurt 2b, 1b; Devin Pulling 2b; Garrett Matthews 1b, RBI; Jakob Aldrich 1b, 3b, RBI; Logan Miller 1b, RBI; Donnie Necas 1b, RBI. Gladwin: Reed Raymond 2b; Carson Longstreth 1b, HR, 2 RBI; Garhet Metiva 1b, RBI; Jonas Kanouse 2 1b, 2 RBI.
Records — Stevensville 25-12; Gladwin 37-4.
Contact: bspencer@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSpencer