TRAVERSE CITY — Three programs on the rise battled it out Saturday.
Gladstone — ranked No. 2 in Division 3 — emerged as the regional champion, but Boyne City and Traverse City St. Francis closed out successful campaigns of their own.
The Braves, which are just in the program’s second year of existence, will move on to Tuesday’s quarterfinals at Traverse City West.
The Gladiators and Ramblers, meanwhile, are looking forward to bright futures as well. Both made strides under first-year coaches.
“We were playing well at the right time of the year, for sure,” Boyne City’s Mark Pontoni said. “This was my first year with the team, and it took us some time to learn each other. This is a real memorable team. A lot of good, quality character guys.”
The Ramblers (14-10) lose only two players — outfielders Chandler Roberts and Jordan Fair — so Pontoni hopes this late success will roll over into a full season next year.
Boyne City roughed up Whittemore-Prescott 11-5 in the semifinals before a 5-2 title-game loss.
“They never gave up,” Pontoni said. “This other dugout, I heard them talking. ‘Why can’t we put these guys away? Why won’t they go away?’ Parents were saying it. Coaches were saying it.”
To illustrate how close the game was, the Braves scored all five of their runs with two outs.
St. Francis (22-7) dropped a 10-2 decision to the the Braves, but have Lake Michigan Conference and district championship trophies to demonstrate the program’s improvement in a short time.
“We had a great year,” TCSF first-year coach Tom Passinault said. “League champs and district champs is a lot to be proud of.”
In the loss, Gabe Callery was 2 for 3 and hit by a pitch, Tyler Waslawski doubled and Matt Seybert had a pair of singles. Due to the public-address system not working at the baseball field, the Gladiators lined up along the first-base line and sang the national anthem a cappella.