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The Gladiators had only three hits and left four runners in scoring position after reaching Final Four in OIBA American tourney

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Gladstones Brady McNett had two of the Gladiators three hits in Saturdays 6-1 loss to Lakeridge in the OIBA American tournament at Putnam High School.Gladstone struggled to catch up with Mac Elske's fastball — and just about everything else the Lakeridge right-hander threw at the Gladiators on Saturday.

Elske tossed a three-hitter with no walks and five strikeouts, and also went 2 for 4 with a double and four RBIs, leading the Pacers to a 6-1 victory over Gladstone in the semifinals of the OIBA American tournament at Rex Putnam High School.

Owen Brown added an RBI-double and Derek Seneker drove in another run with a sacrifice fly the help propel Lakeridge into Saturday's championship final against Sandy.

Gladstone took a 1-0 lead in the first inning without the benefit of a base hit. Greer Gonzalez got hit by a pitch leading off the inning, advanced to second on Ryan Lee's sacrifice bunt, took third on a throwing error on the same bunt play, and scored on Mateo Burgos' ground out to shortstop.

Lakeridge answered with a run in the second inning, three in the third, and two in the sixth.

Gonzalez had a one-out single in the third inning for Gladstone's first hit of the game, while Brady McNett added a two-out single in the fourth and a one-out single in the seventh.

Elske got the final two outs of the seventh on a fly out to center and a called third strike.

"No offense," Gladstone coach Casey Webster said. "I thought we had good pitching and we played pretty good defense for the most part. We just couldn't do anything offensively, and that's been a struggle for these guys.

"You saw our summer in a nutshell in that last at-bat — strike three, looking. You know how many times we've done that this summer? It's frustrating, but we have a group that we think we can bring together and be competitive."

After graduating 11 seniors from this spring's 18-10 playoff team, Gladstone had significant question marks at virtually every position on the field. But the Gladiators got to play a lot of different players at a lot of different positions and showed flashes of brilliance at times against some decent competition in the OIBA's lower-tier varsity division.

"This summer was about giving kids the opportunity and saying, 'Who wants it?'" Webster said. "It's still going to be a challenge next spring to figure some things out, but this summer was good in that regard.

"For the most part, I think we were pretty competitive. We had moments when we'd put things together, so there's some potential. We've got pieces. It's just going to take us a little time to figure it out."

GLADSTONE 10, REYNOLDS 3: J.P. Peterson had an RBI-single and Cameron Ulan, Tyler Butler, Calvin Watts, and Greer Gonzalez drew bases-loaded walks during a five-run first inning that helped the Gladiators break open Friday's quarterfinal against the Raiders at Putnam High School.


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