GLADSTONE — A hometown district brought the Gladstone Braves a district championship on Friday night when they defeated the Newberry Indians 15-0 after three innings in the MHSAA Division 2 District 66 championship game in Gladstone.
Braves coach Joe Darmogray summed up the championship in one word: “Brilliant.”
After beating the Superior Central Cougars in the semifinals, coach Darmogray sent the message to his team not to let up, especially as they watched the second game in which Newberry claimed an upset victory over the Menominee Maroons.
“My biggest thing was that I didn’t want them to sit here carelessly for a couple of hours.” he said. “We fully expected Menominee to win. When we played them they had a pretty strong team and didn’t know much about Newberry. But Newberry pulled through and played really well against Menominee.
I just wanted my kids not to sit back and be careless. I told them to come out and they told me when they did the coin toss that they wanted to hit first. I told them, ‘You win it. You do it. Let’s go.'”
Pitching for the Braves was Brennan Detiege, a junior who nearly ended his baseball season when his hand was accidentally injured in off-field machinery. The injury required stitches and kept him out of action for several games.
“It was hard,” said Detiege about the comeback. “(My fingers) were pretty shattered. It was a lot of pain and I just had to work through it and do what I could.”
After overcoming the pain, Detiege commented that he felt no hesitation when catching balls coming his way on the mound.
As for the win, it all came down to his team supporting his solid pitching.
“The team played well and we scored well” he said. “Their launchers were a bit slower than what we’re used to, so we had to adapt. But we adapted quickly. It was fun. I served well and we played well.”
And for Detiege, having fun is his main goal on the pitch.
“I just go out and have fun” he said. “That’s my biggest thing, having fun.”
Detiege finished the game with three straight strikeouts in the third inning. He had six total in the three-inning contest, with three hits abandoned and zero walks.
Rex Kelly, Cam Kelly, Braden Sundquist and John Soderman each had two goals in the game, while Noah Peterson put on quite a show when he stretched a double to home plate after an error at home to score. The game brought in Cam Kelly as well as Casey Alworden for a total of three runs.
The baseball district win came a few hours after the Braves softball team completed their district championship a few miles away.
“Two great programs. It was nice that the girls came over to watch the boys play.” said Coach Darmogray. “You couldn’t watch. It seems like every game we play this year happens at the same time. It’s great and good for both programs.”
For a young and inexperienced Newberry team, showing up at the District Finals came as a bit of a surprise to many.
“I’m really impressed with the first game. It’s been a tough season. I think we were between 5 and 21 when we came in.” said Newberry coach Dan Hardenbrook. “But we’re getting better and better. I think 14 of our 20 players on our roster have never played before and I think we have nine seniors freshman year. So you learned in no time and peaked at the right time today.
“We’ve talked all year about putting all the pieces together on the right day and on game one we showed up and picked the right day to have it. We just ran into a wall there a bit in the second game. I think we have so much emotion, so much energy in such a tough season.”
With the Regionals ahead, the plan for the Braves is simple.
“Just play how we play, keep practicing as we practice, work on the little basic things we need to work on, and take it from there.” said Coach Darmogray.