Saturday, June 15, 2024
49.0°F

Loggers split 4 games in home tourney

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| June 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Keeping errors to a minimum more often than not translates into victories on the baseball diamond.

The Libby American Legion baseball team has become well aware of the importance of fielding fundamentals so far this season. It seems as though defensive miscues have cropped up at the most inopportune times.

During the third-place game at the Big Bucks Tournament at Lee Gehring Field on Sunday afternoon, the Loggers got off to a great start before hitting a wall offensively. An error during the fourth inning helped the Eagles pull off a 6-5 victory.

“One or two more routine plays in a game and it’s a whole different story for us,” Libby head coach Kelly Morford said. “With our offense, we’re not going to blow anyone’s doors off so we can’t give extra outs.”

In the bottom of the fourth, the Loggers – visitors on the scoreboard based on pool play results – were clinging to a 4-3 lead. GK shortstop Levi Lively hit a two-out infield grounder but an error kept the inning going while Brandon George scored to knot the score. Tyler Jadin then followed with a two-run shot to give the Eagles a lead that would hold up the rest of the way.

Libby finished 2-1 in pool play to earn a spot in the third-place game. The Loggers opened on Friday with a 5-2 victory over Tri-County and then on Saturday, Libby dumped Calgary, 9-4, before falling to eventual tournament champion South Hill (Wash.), 16-2.

“Really all weekend we swung the bats better than we have all year,” Morford said. “We’re getting good at bats from top to bottom of the order.”

Libby got out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first during Sunday’s third-place game. Colt Cannon’s RBI double scored Chris Herbig for the first run. Dustin Morningstar opened the game with a single but thanks to a nice throw by centerfielder Brandon Webb, he got tagged out at third.

Cannon later scored on an error by GK’s catcher. On the play, pitcher Pat Hyland caught Joe Coker off first base and a rundown situation followed. While Coker had the GK defense’s attention, Cannon broke for home. The throw was on the money but the catcher could not hang on to the ball and Cannon scored. Coker later stole home plate for the team’s third run.

Adam Stapley drew a walk and came around to score the fourth run on a two-out single to right field by Clay Smith.

The Eagles responded right away with three runs in the bottom of the first. Hyland hit a two-run blast to center field to get his team on the board. Webb later had an RBI single to score Jeff Logan to cut the Libby deficit to 4-3.

Both pitchers settled down through the next few innings. Libby’s Stapley and the defense set down six in a row over the second and third innings.

“Adam kept us in the game for four or five innings and Zach (Watson) came in and did a good job to give us a chance,” Morford said.

Stapley’s line included 3 2/3 innings pitched with seven hits and six runs allowed. Only three of those runs were earned. Watson finished out the game with 2 1/3 innings pitched, two hits and two walks allowed with one strikeout.

Following GK’s big fourth inning, the Loggers tried to respond to get back into the game. In the top of the fifth, Derek Willis and Watson had two-out singles but the Eagles escaped any damage on the scoreboard. In the sixth, Libby’s Eric Riddle opened with a walk but GK turned one of its three double plays.

The Loggers then appeared to be on the verge of coming back in the seventh. Coker opened with a stand-up double to left-center and Willis followed with a double down the right-field line to score Coker. The Eagles went to the bullpen and with Matt Raines on the mound, got out of a major jam.

With Tate Wilson on the basepaths running for Willis and after Watson drew a walk, the Loggers had two men on with no outs. Smith hit a grounder but GK threw out Wilson at home for the first out. The game ended on a Riddle line drive to second baseman Greg Barrager, who quickly threw over to first base to double off Smith.

Cannon, Coker and Willis each finished with two hits for the Loggers. Jadin, Hyland and Rogers had two hits apiece for GK, which donated its $100 third-place prize back to the tournament.

Libby (14-16 overall) opened with the 5-2 win over Tri-County. Cannon had a complete-game three-hitter with four strikeouts, one earned run and six walks. Offensively, he went 1-for-2 with an RBI triple. Herbig also went 1-for-2 and had an RBI double. Morningstar went 1-for-3 with one RBI.

Tri-County loaded the bases in the seventh but Libby turned a double play to turn out the lights.

“It was a fun game because everybody played good sound defense on both sides,” Morford said.

Libby played two pool games on Saturday with the 9-4 win over Calgary and 16-3 loss to South Hill.

The Loggers scored four runs in the second, three in the fourth and two in the fifth to defeat the Canadians. Cannon went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Morningstar went 1-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

On the mound, Morningstar tossed a complete-game six-hitter, allowing four runs – two earned – and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts.

“Dustin threw a lot of strikes and didn’t give up too many free passes,” Morford said.

Libby played competitively against the Stingers until the final two innings. Heading into the sixth, the Loggers trailed just 5-2.

“The Stingers are as good of a team as we’ll see all year long,” Morford said. “We competed with them for the first five innings. We made a few mistakes defensively.”

South Hill broke the game open with four in the sixth and seven in the seventh.

Herbig was the pitcher of decision for Libby. At the plate, the Loggers collected six hits – all singles. Cannon went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Eric Grotjohn also went 2-for-3.

Libby was scheduled to play a doubleheader at Kalispell “A” on Tuesday. The Loggers will host a twinbill on Friday against Glacier “A.”

Stingers win tourney title

The South Hill (Wash.) Stingers won the Big Bucks Tournament at Lee Gehring Field in dramatic fashion on Sunday night on Kye Winter’s two-run homer in the seventh inning to defeat the Mission Valley Mariners, 6-5.

The Stingers were the only non-American Legion team in the tournament. South Hill out of Washington state, is a traveling team with players from several states. Over the past seven seasons, the team has compiled 325 victories.

South Hill went through pool play with a 3-0 record with victories over Calgary (12-3), Tri-County (9-0) and Libby (16-2).

Scoreboard

Friday’s Scores

South Hill 12, Calgary 3

Tri-County 4, Calgary 3

Mission Valley 10, St. Maries 0

Mission Valley 8, Prairie 0

GK 18, St. Maries 1

Libby 5, Tri-County 2

Saturday’s Scores

GK 6, Prairie 4

Prairie 11, St. Maries 1

Mission Valley 10, GK 6

South Hill 9, Tri-County 0

Libby 9, Calgary 4

South Hill 16, Libby 2

Pool Play Standings

Kootenai Pool – 1, South Hill (Wash.) 3-0; 2, Libby 2-1; 3, Tri-County 1-2; 4, Calgary (Alberta) 0-3.

Cabinet Pool – 1, Mission Valley 3-0; 2, GK (Wash.) 2-1; 3, Prairie (Idaho) 1-2; 4, St. Maries (Idaho), 0-3.

Sunday’s Championship Round

Seventh-Place Game

St. Maries 6, Calgary 5

Fifth-Place Game

Tri-County 7, Prairie 0

Third-Place Game

GK 6, Libby 5

Championship Game

South Hill 6, Mission Valley 5