LEWISTOWN — An eight-run first inning propelled the Billings Blue Jays to a run-rule 17-5 win over the Lewistown Redbirds Saturday in the undefeated semifinal game of the Class A American Legion baseball tournament at Ryan Sparks Field.
Lewistown will play Gallatin Valley at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The winner will meet the Billings Blue Jays in the championship game at 1 p.m. If a second championship game is necessary, it would be played at approximately 4 p.m.
Gallatin Valley downed the Bitterroot Bucs 11-10 in nine innings in the final day of the game on Saturday.
Earlier Saturday, the Outlaws and Bucs won loser-out games.
Gallatin Valley topped the Belgrade Bandits 6-2 and Bitterroot followed with a 5-3 win over the Glacier Twins.
Billings Blue Jays 17, Lewistown 5
Lewistown pitchers hit two batters and walked six in the first inning, and the Blue Jays took advantage.
Davis Mosier hit a two-run double and later in the inning earned a bases-loaded walk to give him three RBIs in two at-bats in the opening frame. The Blue Jays sent 14 batters to the plate and scored six runs after two were out.
Mosier, who was also the winning pitcher, finished with five RBIs and Kruz Slevira and Bryce LaForest both had two RBIs for the Blue Jays, who advanced to Sunday’s championship game with the 4 ½-inning win. Billings had nine hits and was issued 15 walks in the game.
"I’m happy about the way we bounced back after giving up a run in the top of the first. Davis was visibly frustrated with himself that he gave up a run but the way we came back and were able to put runs up on the board was huge," Blue Jays coach Calvin Bjorgum told The Billings Gazette and 406mtsports.com. "We stayed up the whole game and made sure we won every inning. We didn’t get complacent and that was what was able to help us win that game. Davis had a huge game for us both on the mound and at the plate. He was able to help himself out on the mound with the way he hit today. It really relaxed him."
With the win, the Blue Jays advanced to the championship game at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Blue Jays are undefeated in the tournament. A second championship game, if necessary, would start 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first championship game.
The Blue Jays are aiming for their first state championship since 1996.
"As for tomorrow, we are excited and ready to go," Bjorgum said. "Our mindset is the same as it has been this whole tournament. Play relaxed, play loose and do the little things. Just like I said yesterday, I’m proud of the way they have played this far but we still aren’t done."
Jake Clinton went 3 for 3 and scored three runs to lead Lewistown.
"It's pretty hard to win when you issue 17 free passes to a good team," Lewistown coach Scott Sparks told The Billings Gazette and 406mtsports.com. "We were about even in hits, but Mosier threw strikes and we didn't. We've had some games like that this year where guys don't compete on the mound and dig us too big of a hole to get out of."
Lewistown will play in the 10 a.m. game Sunday against the Gallatin Valley Outlaws. The winner of the 10 a.m. game on Sunday will play the Blue Jays for the championship.
"We missed a big opportunity today. I just wish we would have made them earn it and not given away so many runs. We are way better than that," Sparks said. "Tomorrow is a new day and we have to leave it all out on the field in the morning and do our best to make it a long day of baseball. We are going to have to score a pile of runs and rely on some young arms tomorrow that are hopefully up for the challenge."
Gallatin Valley 11, Bitterroot 10
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Cyrus Richardson drove in Trevor Doud with a single for the game-winning RBI.
Overall, Richardson was 5 of 6 with two runs and three RBIs. Josh Wisecarver had a 3-for-5 performance with three runs.
The seesaw contest was tied 8-8 after seven innings. Both teams scored two runs in the eighth, before Bitterroot was scoreless in the top of the ninth.
Zack Christopherson hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth for the Bucs.
Christopherson finished 2 for 4 with three runs and two RBIs. Brendan Schneiter and Andrew Scully both had two RBIs for the Bucs.
Gallatin Valley 6, Belgrade 2
Caleb Kamerman shut out Belgrade over the final six innings and allowed five hits overall.
Isaac Richardson and Brandon Beedie both had two hits and drove in two runs as the Outlaws scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings and four in the seventh to overtake the Bandits.
Belgrade scored twice in the first inning on an Outlaws error and a Seth Green groundout. Kamerman held the Bandits in check after that, and finished with five strikeouts.
Belgrade starter Coby Richards shut out Gallatin Valley for the first four innings, and struck out eight in 5.1 innings. He allowed two runs, one earned, and six Bandits errors led to five unearned runs.
Bitterroot Bucs 5, Glacier Twins 3
Jake Scully hit a bases-clearing double in the top of the fifth inning to erase a 3-1 deficit, and he combined with Zach Christopherson to shut out the Twins the final three innings for the win.
Andrew Scully and Blake Hinsdale also had RBIs for the Bucs, who found themselves down 3-1 after four innings. An RBI single by Trenton Tyree, a run-scoring wild pitch and a sacrifice fly from Mason Peters lifted Glacier to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
But Jake Scully recovered on the mound and went six innings before giving way to Christopherson, who threw a scoreless seventh for the save. Jake Scully struck out six.