THREE FORKS — In 2022, the Belgrade Bandits and Butte Miners met in the Southern A Legion tournament championship, which the Miners won on the way to a state title.
Flash forward one year and the same matchup took place for the district hardware but this time the Bandits got their long-awaited revenge to claim the 2023 district crown. The final score was 5-4 after a hard-fought contest, and it was the Bandits second game of the day.
Beforehand, Belgrade beat the Gallatin Valley Outlaws 5-4 in extra innings to clinch a state bid and a spot in the championship game against Butte.
The winning run of the first game came from Ryas Olson crossing home off a Cam Euland bunt. On Saturday, Butte beat Belgrade 2-1 to claim its state bid and spot in this championship.
It was a rematch for the No. 1 and 2 seeds, and the first score of the game came from the Miners when Sean Ossello crossed home off an RBI double from Cade Stajcar.
Belgrade found its footing in the fourth inning, scoring three runs. Gavin Waters was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, automatically sending in Euland to home.
Collin Delph then had a two-run single and advanced to second on the throw. He brought in Josh Arrants on the hit, and Brayton VanDyken scored on the throw.
Butte would then respond to tie the game at 3-3 as Quinn Cox walked, which sent in Anthony Knott to score. Soon after Zach Tierney scored on a wild pitch.
In the top of fifth, Josh Arrants singled on a hard ground ball to left field and Keenan Kraft and Aidan Kulbeck both scored on the hit. Butte had more more score in the bottom of the sixth with Cade Stajcar scoring one of his own.
But that was all she wrote, and Belgrade holds on to win.
Wyatt Russell was on the mound for the Bandits the entire game, and described how great it felt to take home the hardware.
"Feeling awesome, we've definitely earned it," Russell said. "We've been working for it all year."
Russell described the game-changing moment for the Bandits as happening in that fourth-inning push to take their first lead of the game.
"We came together as a team, in between, I want to say it was like the fourth inning, and were like, 'We have to trust ourselves,'" he said. "We've been working at it all year, and we did, and it worked."
Both teams qualified for the Class A state Legion tournament, which starts on Wednesday in Laurel.