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Loggers split 4 games in Wood Bat tourney

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| May 26, 2009 12:00 AM

A broken hand is not going to stop Dustin Morningstar.

The southpaw Morningstar threw a five-hitter to help the Libby American Legion baseball team defeat Cranbrook, British Columbia, 2-1, on Sunday during the third day of the Wood Bat Tournament.

“His split finger was working well,” Libby coach Kelly Morford said. “He kept them off-balance with that. It’s a big boost for the ballclub to have him back out there.”

Morningstar played with a cast on his right hand. He throws left and bats right.

“Anytime there’s a low-scoring game, you know there was good pitching and defense,” Morford said about the win.

Libby (7-10) scored both of its runs in the bottom of the second. Micah Germany and Derek Willis each had RBI singles. Joe Coker and Germany had two hits apiece. Adam Stapley and Colt Cannon smacked doubles.

The Loggers opened the tournament on Friday with a tough 6-4 loss to Missoula. Libby had the potential tying run on base with one out in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t push the run across. Missoula escaped by getting a forceout for the second out and then a groundout to end the game.

“We had a chance but it just didn’t happen,” Morford said.

Libby was limited to four hits by Missoula pitching. Chris Herbig, Colt Cannon, Adam Stapley and Joe Coker collected hits.

Cannon took the loss at pitcher.

On Saturday, the Loggers rebounded behind a strong pitching performance from Herbig. The Libby hurler tossed a three-hitter – all singles – and walked just one while striking out nine.

“Herbig piched well,” Morford said. “He was able to throw all three of his pitches for strikes. That was important. The defense was solid behind him and it turned into a victory.”

Libby took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Both runs were scored on bases-loaded walks. The Loggers added another in the third and one more in the fourth.

Libby collected just three hits in the game on safeties by Cannon, Eric Riddle and Eric Grotjohn.

The Loggers wrapped up the tourney on Monday with a 9-7 setback to Kootenai Valley out of Eureka. The Rangers have defeated Libby five times this season.

Morford said the team just needs to get the bats going.

“We have’t been hitting too much but our pitching and defense have been good enough to keep us in ballgames,” he said. “If we can get our stroke going, we’ll be in pretty good shape. Hopefully, that will come.”

Libby headed into the bottom of the seventh trailing 9-5 before scoring a pair of runs. With two outs, the Loggers loaded the bases but they were stranded on a game-ending strikeout.

Morford said teams were complimentary on the tournament – whch was held in Libby for the first time.

“Every team said they wanted to come back,” Morford said. “Hopefully, we’ll expand to six to eight teams. I think it was a pretty good success.”

The Loggers will head to Polson to face Mission Valley on Saturday. The original schedule shows the doubleheader at home but Morford said the games were switched. Libby will now visit Mission Valley on June 16.

(The Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell contributed to this story).