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GILMAN BASEBALL - Pirates take positive early steps with wins over Rockets, Trojans

Pirates take positive early steps with wins over Rockets, Trojans
Pitcher Dawson Robinson ducks out of the way as Gilman third baseman Connor Nichols fields a ground ball hit by New Auburn’s Elliott Gotham and throws him out during the fifth inning of Friday’s 4-3, extra-inning win in the Pirates’ home opener. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS
Pirates take positive early steps with wins over Rockets, Trojans
Pitcher Dawson Robinson ducks out of the way as Gilman third baseman Connor Nichols fields a ground ball hit by New Auburn’s Elliott Gotham and throws him out during the fifth inning of Friday’s 4-3, extra-inning win in the Pirates’ home opener. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS




The Gilman Pirates improved in each of their first three baseball games under new head coach Derek Nichols, earning a 2-1 record and getting clutch offense in the fifth inning Tuesday to earn their first Eastern Cloverbelt Conference win in the league opener.

The Pirates surprised visiting Spencer 7-4, using the four-run fifth to answer a two-run rally the Rockets put together in the top half of the inning to briefly tie the game.

Played on an extremely windy afternoon, the game ended early when storms started to roll through in the bottom of the sixth. But that was more than enough to consider it a completed game, giving Gilman its first baseball win over Spencer since the end of the 2019 season.

Dawson Grunseth got the win with five solid innings on the mound. The sophomore left-hander struck out four, walked three and allowed five hits and three earned runs. The Rockets got a run on three hits off Dalton Wisocky in the sixth, but he limited that damage, getting one strikeout.

Connor Nichols was three for three to lead Gilman’s nine-hit attack. Tony Syryczuk and Tate Krizan had two hits each.

The big fifth inning started with walks issued by Spencer starter Carter Luepke to Talyn Podolak and Joey Syryczuk. Wisocky greeted reliever Tyler Peterson with a double to left that scored Podolak with the go-ahead run. Nichols singled to right with one out to score Syryczuk. After Nichols stole second base, Krizan grounded out, scoring Wisocky and advancing Nichols to third. Nichols then stole home with the fourth run of the inning.

Nichols singled in the second inning and scored on a clutch two-out single by Grunseth. The Rockets tied the game in the top of the fourth. Gilman went ahead 3-1 in the bottom half. Nichols and Krizan started the inning with singles. They stole second and third, putting Nichols in position to score on Grunseth’s groundout. Krizan scored on a double to left by Tony Syryczuk.

Spencer fell to 0-3 in conference play and 2-6 overall with the loss. The Rockets were coming off a 3-2, eight-inning win over unbeaten Auburndale the previous night. Peterson led the Rockets by going three for four. Luepke took the loss. He allowed seven hits and five earned runs while striking out six and walking two in four-plus innings.

The Pirates will carry their mini twogame winning streak into a Friday home game with Greenwood, a team they beat three times last year. The rematch at Spencer is set for noon on Saturday. The Pirates will be tested with an ECC doubleheader at Loyal Tuesday that starts at 4:30 p.m.

Gilman 4, New Auburn 3

The first squeeze bunt call Derek Nichols made as Gilman’s head coach didn’t go as planned, but it got the hoped result, bringing in the winning run in an eight-inning, 4-3 home victory over New Auburn Friday afternoon.

The Pirates got out to a 3-0 lead by scor- ing single runs in each of the first three innings, but then the bats went silent and the Trojans tied the game with a two-run fifth. Gilman ran itself out of a scoring chance in the sixth with an inning-ending double play, didn’t get the key hit it needed with a runner in scoring position to win it in the seventh, but then loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth when Connor Nichols lined a double over the centerfielder’s head, Dawson Robinson was hit by a pitch and Krizan singled up the middle.

That brought to the plate Wyatt Webster, who had laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the sixth.

“I thought this was the perfect, let’s just do it,” Derek Nichols said.

Pinch runner Tony Syryczuk broke from third on the pitch from New Auburn reliever Brayden Lotts, but Webster didn’t make contact on the bunt, which normally would ruin the play. However, the pitch got by New Auburn catcher Brett Elmhorst and Syryczuk scored easily to give the Pirates their first win of the season and Nichols his first coaching win.

“Neither one really executed it the way it was supposed to be,” Nichols sad. “It just worked out luckily.”

The win truly was made possible by Gilman’s pitching duo of Wisocky and Robinson, who gave up just one earned run in eight innings. Wisocky covered the first four innings, struck out six and worked out of two no-out, bases-loaded jams with just the one earned run allowed.

The Trojans got two unearned runs off Robinson in his first inning, but after that the sophomore retired nine straight Trojans with six strikeouts to get credit for the win. New Auburn had just three hits.

“They threw strikes,” Nichols said. “I was happy with the way we pitched for sure. They got out of some big spots. They had bases loaded a couple times.”

Offensively, Gilman continued to make progress by collecting nine hits, including four doubles. In a scrimmage a week earlier with Cameron, Nichols said the Pirates had one hit in 30 at-bats and they had two the night before in a loss at Marathon.

Podolak led off the bottom of the first with a drive to right that misplayed into a double and he scored on Wisocky’s oneout double down the rightfield line. Krizan and Troy Duellman walked in the second to set up Joey Syryczuk’s two-out RBI single. Brayden Olynick led off the third with a single, stole second and scored on a base hit by Nichols that was followed by a throwing error.

Wisocky struck out three straight Trojans after they loaded the bases in the second. In the fourth, Lotts led off with a double and Elliott Gotham and Elmhorst were hit by pitches to load them again. Beau Palmer hit a sacrifice fly, but a strikeout and flyout got Wisocky out of it with minimal damage.

New Auburn tied it in the fifth on an error, a Joseph Reimer double, a Sawyer Jones sacrifice fly, another error and a wild pitch. But no more Trojans reached after that.

Wisocky allowed two hits, walked one and hit three. Robinson allowed a hit.

Krizan and Nichols, both freshmen, went two for three and each drew a walk at the plate. Joey Syryczuk was two for four with a double.

Marathon 14, Gilman 0

In a late addition to the schedule, the Pirates, who hadn’t fully practiced yet on their own field, drew a tough assignment Thursday, traveling to face a solid Marathon team that already had five games under its belt.

Marathon jumped ahead with three first-inning runs and used a seven-run third to quickly put the Pirates away 14-0 in five innings.

Gilman had one scoring threat. That came in the top of the third when Webster and Grunseth led off with singles, but the Red Raiders got two outs on the base paths on a tapper hit by Tony Syryczuk and got out of it.

After that, they turned a 4-0 lead to 11-0 with their big inning, which included an RBI single by Cody Radtke, a run-scoring groundout by True Thurs and two-run singles by Grant Warren and Evan DeBroux.

DeBroux was four for four with five RBIs for Marathon, while Warren was three for four with three RBIs and Cale Quaintance added three hits. Radtke pitched four shutout innings with three strikeouts.

Grunseth started for Gilman and lasted 2.1 innings, allowing nine earned runs on nine hits and three walks. Beau Pockat covered the last 1.2 innings and allowed four earned runs on seven hits.

“I’m glad we played them, just to see some stuff,” Nichols said. “They’re very well coached.”

Gilman shortstop Beau Pockat is ready to tag New Auburn’s Brayden Lotts, but he takes his eye off the ball a second too early when the throw from centerfielder Troy Duellman arrives and Lotts slides in safely for a fourth-inning double Friday. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS