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Belgrade rallies past Laurel to win first Legion state title, advance to Class A regional

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jul 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-30 23:13:32-04

LAUREL — The Belgrade Bandits made program history Sunday by winning the Class A state Legion baseball championship with a 4-2 victory over the Laurel Dodgers.

The win served as Belgrade's first-ever Legion title, and sends the program on to the Class A Northwest regional tournament which begins Friday in Havre.

Trailing 2-0, the Bandits tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on a two-strike, two-out, two-run single by Josh Arrants that scored Ryas Olson and Keenan Kraft. Then in the sixth, Belgrade took the lead when Gavin Waters slid home on a squeeze bunt by Olson. Kraft then delivered a sacrifice fly to put the Bandits ahead 4-2.

Laurel took the lead in the third when Reece Dolechek's sac fly brought in Evan Caton. The Dodgers made it 2-0 in the top of the fifth as Jace Buchanan's aggressive baserunning allowed him to score from first base on a throwing error.

Belgrade, though, wouldn't be denied. Bandits pitcher Collin Delph went the distance to earn the victory, surviving three walks, three hit batters and three fielding errors. The Bandits bounced back to win the title after falling to Glacier 10-2 on Saturday.

Olson, Arrants, Wyatt Russell and Diego Casas had hits for Belgrade. Buchanan went 2 for 3 for Laurel, while Louis Nagy also had a hit. Dodgers starter Beau Mares went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits with two strikeouts and three walks.

Laurel was attempting to win the championship with four consecutive elimination-game wins after losing to Belgrade 3-2 on Thursday when the Bandits rallied for two runs in the seventh inning. The Dodgers advanced to the championship with a 3-2 victory over Glacier earlier Sunday, which eliminated the Twins from contention.

Collin Delph won the state tournament MVP, while Aidan Kulbeck won the state tournament batting title.

This is also the third year in a row the southern district has taken home the state title.

The 2023 Class A Northwest regional tournament will be held at American Legion Field in Havre from Friday to Tuesday of next week.