Cooper VanLuchene tossed a 1-hitter, the offense amassed 30 runs, and Belgrade easily swept a Southern A doubleheader from the Helena Reps Tuesday at Medina Field.
The Bandits, led by the effort of VanLuchene, posted a 20-0 victory in five innings in the opener. Then they notched a 10-0 win in six innings in the nightcap to improve to 5-1 in league play.
Hunter Bratcher broke up VanLuchene’s no-hitter with one out single in the fifth. But VanLuchene induced a hard line out back to the mound by Mike Hurlbert on the ensuing at-bat and then turned a game-ending double play.
“I think that Coop’s finally made the transition to being one of our better arms,” Belgrade pitching coach Joel Barnett said. “He’s put in a lot of work in the fall and he’s just been consistent for us all year because of the work he’s put in.”
Belgrade (18-6-1) capitalized on 10 walks and a hit batsman in the opener, and blew the contest open by plating 12 runs in the third inning. Head coach Johnny Graham noted his players remained patient at the plate and were hunting strikes.
“We talk so much about quality at-bats in this program and a walk is a criteria for a good QAB,” he said. “I almost think it gets us going.”
Cole Thomas belted a bases-clearing double in the third to bring in three runs, while Brandon Matthews finished 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles and three RBI’s, and Coby Richards was 3 for 4 with a double and three RBI’s.
The Bandits added two more big innings in Game 2, scoring five runs in the third and then five in the sixth to end the contest via the 10-run rule. Richards was 2 for 3 with a triple.
“We play hard and we play kind of that unique brand with aggression and motion between the run game and the short game,” Graham said of the team’s explosive scoring potential. “And then on top of that I think we have one of the deeper lineups we’ve had in quite some time where we’ve got some slug in the lineup — one through nine — we got some guys that can handle the bat and handle velocity ... we’re turning into, slowly but surely, a lineup full of hitters.”
Mason Jacobsen earned the win on the hill in Game 2, scattering six hits and striking out two.
Belgrade will host its annual Boys of Summer Invitational beginning Thursday. Graham noted the four-day tournament will feature top-notched programs from within the state as well as NW Premier, a select team out of Idaho.
“Should be a competitive tournament and that’s what I’m excited about,” he said. “Ideally it’s one of those tournaments that if you don’t play the game at a high level you get punished at a high level, and that’s kind of the whole point of playing up. I’m excited about it.”
Boys of Summer Invitational
(at Medina Field, Belgrade)
Billings vs. Cody, Wyo., 12:30 p.m.
South Fremont vs. Billings, 3 p.m.
Spokane vs. Laurel, 5:30 p.m.
Premier vs. Belgrade, 8 p.m.
Billings vs. Spokane, 9 a.m.
Spokane vs. South Fremont, 11:30 a.m.
Cody, Wyo. vs. Premier, 2 p.m.
Laurel vs. Premier, 4:30 p.m.
Laurel vs. Belgrade, 7 p.m.
Premier vs. Spokane, 9 a.m.
Cody, Wyo. vs. Laurel, 11:30 a.m.
South Fremont vs. Cody, Wyo., 2 p.m.
Belgrade vs. South Fremont, 4:30 p.m.
Belgrade vs. Billings, 7 p.m.
Semifinal, 8:30 a.m.
Championship, 11 a.m.
Belgrade 20, Helena 0
Helena 00 0 00 - 0 1 0
Belgrade 51(12) 2x - 20 12 1
Matt Burton, Cade Coate (3), Greyson Ahmann (3) and Trysten Mooney. Cooper VanLuchene and Seth Green. W - VanLuchene. L - Burton.
HELENA (10-11) - Money 0-2, Joel Anderson 0-1, Tyler Tenney 0-2, Eamon Burke 0-2, Forrest Suero 0-2, Victor Scott 0-2, Hunter Bratcher 1-2, Mike Hurlbert 0-1, Burton 0-1.
BELGRADE (17-6-1) - Easton Page 0-3, Cole Thomas 1-2 (2B), Brandon Matthews 3-3 (2 2B), Mason Jacobsen 0-1, Coby Richards 3-4 (2B), Green 1-2, Kash Fike 0-1, Lane Neill 3-3, VanLuchene 0-0, Isaiah Brandhorst 0-2, Marcos Verdeja 0-1, Alex Casas 1-1.
Belgrade 10, Helena 0
Helena 000 000 - 0 6 7
Belgrade 005 005 - 10 6 3
Hunter Bratcher, Victor Scott (6) and Greyson Ahmann. Mason Jacobsen and Connor Reid. W -
HELENA (10-12) - Matt Burton 0-3, Tyler Tenney 1-3, Joel Anderson 1-1, Will Brent 1-3, Eamon Burke 1-3, Judson Seliskar 1-1, Joe Hurlbert 1-2 (2B), Greyson Ahmann 0-3, Cade Coate 0-2, Dillon Brenden 0-1.
BELGRADE (18-6-1) - Easton Page 1-1, Marcos Verdeja 0-4, Isaiah Brandhorst 0-0, Cole Thomas 1-3, Coby Richards 2-3 (3B), Lane Neill 1-4, Cooper VanLuchene 1-2, Connor Reid 0-2, Jacobsen 0-3, Keaton Carter 0-2.