FLORENCE – Two teams won with their backs against the wall at the Montana-Alberta Class A State Legion Baseball Tournament on Tuesday. Now three teams remain in the chase for a championship.
The hosting Bitterroot Bucs shocked Laurel 4-1, eliminating the Dodgers. Then Gallatin Valley blew-out the only team that hadn’t before lost in the bracket. The Outlaws crushed the Vauxhall Spurs 13-3.
Bitterroot and Gallatin Valley will now meet at 1:00 Wednesday to settle the final spot in the championship game. The winner will play Vauxhall for the title later Wednesday afternoon.
BITTERROOT 4, LAUREL 1
A couple clutch fifth-inning hits, and a strong pitching performance from Blake Hinsdale lifted the Bucs to a surprise win over the east district champs.
Bitterroot broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fifth when Jake Scully lined a double deep and just out of the reach of Laurel’s center fielder. Hinsdale scored from first on the play to give the Bucs a 2-1 advantage. After two straight walks, Andrew Scully came to the plate as a pinch hitter. He drilled a double off the base of the fence in left center to score two more, although a third possible run was thrown out at home to end the inning with Bitterroot leading 4-1.
The scoreboard remained unchanged into Laurel’s last chance in the top of the seventh. After giving up a leadoff single, Hinsdale retired the next two Dodgers batters. But Laurel stayed alive with a two-out single and a walk to load the bases, and put the tying run on first base. Hinsdale finished the improbably win by striking out Deklen Harper on a high fastball. The Bucs’ hurler struck out seven in a complete game while only giving up a single run on a Connor Polkowske RBI single in the top of the fourth.
The Bucs ended the regular season in dead last in the west district, ranked eighth out of eight teams with a 6-14 league record. They lost out quickly in two games at the district tournament in Libby. But as the state tournament hosts, the Bucs were given a spot in the bracket. Now they will take no worse than third place in all of class A.
GALLATIN VALLEY 13, VAUXHALL 3
The north district champion had been the best team in the bracket going into Tuesday. But the Outlaws jumped all over the Spurs to hand Vauxhall their first loss of the week, and keep Gallatin Valley swinging into the final day.
After a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, Kyle Grevious drilled a home run to left to give Gallatin Valley a 2-0 lead after only two batters. Grevious came through again in the bottom of the second, pulling a double that landed fair by a foot down the left field line, bringing in two more to put the Outlaws up 5-0.
Gallatin Valley scored four more in the bottom of the third, two on a one-out single by Dalton Mitchell, to lead 9-0. Vauxhall finally got on the board with three in the top of the fifth, but the Outlaws immediately answered with three more runs in the bottom of the inning. Hunter Johnson ended the game due to the ten-run rule with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.
Grevious drove in four runs with his two huge early hits. Mitchell added three RBI on three hits. Michael Jones tossed a complete game for the Outlaws. Take out the three-run rally by Vauxhall in the fifth inning, and Jones only gave up a single hit over the other five combined innings on the mound.