On the verge of an important conference sweep against league-leading Belgrade, things quickly fell apart in the nightcap Saturday for Gallatin Valley.
The Outlaws took a 6-3 lead into the fifth inning at Medina Field, but were unable to hang on in a 9-6 Southern A loss and remained one game behind the Bandits in the standings. Gallatin Valley won the opener 7-1 thanks to a stout effort on the hill by Michael Nehring.
Nehring tossed and 3-hitter and stuck out three in the victory. While he struggled a bit with his breaking ball, the senior from Manhattan continually located his fast ball and change up.
“I thought he threw really well. He got a little tired, but then he worked himself through it, especially in those last couple innings,” Gallatin Valley coach Duwayne Scott said. “But I thought he threw really well. Kept the ball down and kept them off balance.”
Belgrade had taken a 1-0 lead in the second, but the Outlaws countered with four in the third and then rode the arm of Nehring to victory. He consistently got the Bandits to hit under the ball, which resulted in easy outs.
“He’s a good arm. He threw well. He threw strikes and he didn’t help us,” Belgrade coach Johnny Graham said. “And I don’t think we helped ourselves. We put him in the air a ton and their outfield has the ability to go get it.”
It was a frustrating effort in futility at the plate for the Bandits, who also struggled for much of Game 2 before mounting a late rally.
“I just don’t think we were focused, period,” said Graham. “For whatever reason we weren’t present and I don’t know why.”
Belgrade loaded the bases in the fifth and managed to scratch across a pair of runs to trim the deficit to 6-5. Then Cole Thomas ripped a two-out triple in sixth to bring in Justin Riekenberg to tie the game. Thomas scored on an error and after Connor Reid belted an RBI-single, the Bandits led 9-6.
“A lot more balls were hit on a line,” noted Graham, “and Cole’s was one of them.”
Michael Jones scattered six hits through five innings of work for the Outlaws (30-21, 11-3), but Robert Wolf gave up five hits and walked three in the sixth as Belgrade rallied to take the lead.
“When we made the pitching change, we have games on Monday and games on Wednesday, so we kind of went to Wolf hoping that he might be able to hold the fort down for at least one inning,” said Scott. “But they came up and hunted the fast ball early in the count and were able get a couple balls in gaps, and it’s just part of baseball. Hopefully we’ll learn from it.”
Coby Richards was 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI’s for Belgrade, while Brandon Mathews, Riekenberg and Thomas each had two hits.
“We were two totally different teams, obviously, today,” said Graham. “The entirety of game one and the first half of game two we were so uncharacteristic, I thought. Poor defensively, not throwing strikes and zero plate approach.”
The previous day, Belgrade (41-9, 12-2) split a doubleheader at Cody, Wyo. The team’s eight-game winning streak was snapped in a 5-2 loss in the opener, but they bounced back to win Game 2, 8-3.
Graham noted the team bus broke down about 30 minutes outside of Cody, which led to a late arrival. With no time for batting practice or proper warm up activities, they stepped right into the first game.
“Honestly, both teams played well in both games,” he said. “I was really proud of our guys for handling the whole early part of that day.”
Both teams wrap up the regular season this week with conference games. Gallatin Valley hosts Dillon on Monday and Butte on Wednesday before hosting Belgrade in a rematch on Saturday.
Belgrade travels to Helena (34-16, 13-5) Tuesday and Bozeman (35-13, 10-4) Thursday before finishing up with a third straight doubleheader in Three Forks.
“We got to continue to play good. I saw that Bozeman swept Dillon today. So Bozeman’s still only got four losses and now we’ll have three and them (Belgrade) with two,” said Scott. “They still got Bozeman and still got us to finish this thing. Everybody’s kind of log-jammed at the top right now.”
Outlaws sweep Dillon
Gallatin Valley notched a conference sweep of Dillon on Monday at Imerys Field. The Outlaws won the opener 11-4 and then posted a 16-6 six inning victory in Game 2.
Hunter Johnson was 5-for-5 with a double and four RBIs in the opener, and also tossed a 5-hitter on the mound while striking out eight.
Thomas Carlson picked up the victory on the hill in Game 2, while Kyle Grevious hit a home run.
Gallatin Valley (32-21, 13-3) is back in action Wednesday hosting the Butte Muckers in another twinbill.
Bandits split at Helena
Belgrade rallied to beat the Helena Reps in the first game of a conference doubleheader on the road Tuesday, 7-6. The team nearly came all the way back in the nightcap too, losing 7-6 after trailing 7-0 entering the sixth.
Thomas led the charge in the opener going 2-fof-4 with a pair of doubles, while Easton Page had a triple and Coby Richards a double in Game 2.
Belgrade (42-10, 13-3) travels to Bozeman on Thursday before battling Gallatin Valley Saturday in Three Forks.
Gallatin Valley 7, Belgrade 1
Gallatin Valley 004 000 3 - 7 10 2
Belgrade 010 000 0 - 1 3 2
Michael Nehring, Thomas Carlson (7) and Kyle Grevious. Coby Richards, Isaiah Brandhorst (5), Jake Klonsinski (7) and and Isaac Green. W - Nehring. L - Ricahrds.
GALLATIN VALLEY (30-20) - Connor Johnson 0-4, Derik DeFrance 1-4 (2B), Hunter Johnson 2-4, Nehring 1-2, Michael Jones 1-4, Grevious 2-5 (2B), Ryan Murphy 1-3, Brady jones 2-3 (2B), Dalton Mitchell 0-2.
BELGRADE (40-9) - Klonsinski 0-3, Brandon Mathews 1-4 (2B), Easton Page 0-2, Justin Riekenberg 0-3, Cole Thomas 0-3, Richards 2-3 (3B), Brandhorst 0-2, Green 0-2, Marcos Verdeja 0-3.
Belgrade 9, Gallatin Valley 6
Gallatin Valley 202 200 0 - 6 5 3
Belgrade 012 024 x - 9 11 2
Michael Jones, Robert Wolf (6) and Kyle Grevious. Easton Page, Tanner Stephenson (4) and Connor Reid. W - Stephenson. L - Wolf.
GALLATIN VALLEY (30-21) - Connor Johnson 0-2, Ryan Murphy 1-4, Hunter Johnson 0-2, Michael Nehring 2-4, Michael Jones 2-4, Grevious 0-3, Derik DeFrance 0-2, Brady Jones 0-2, Dalton Mitchell 0-2.
BELGRADE (41-9) - Jake Klonsinski 0-3, Brandon Mathews 2-4, Page 0-4, Justin Riekenberg 2-3 (2B), Cole Thomas 2-3 (3B), Coby Richards 3-3, Isaiah Brandhorst 0-0, Stephenson 0-0, Reid 1-4, Marcos Verdeja 1-2.
Gallatin Valley 16, Dillon 6
Dillon 000 60 - 6 5 2
Gallatin Valley 542 23 - 16 14 2
johnny Reiser, Connor Curnow (2) Connor Vezina (5) and n/a. Hunter johnson, Caleb Kamerman (5) and n/a. W - Johnson. L - Reiser
DILLON - Jace Fitzgerald 2-3, Hunter Wentworth 1-3, Pete Gibson 0-2, Michael Hupp 0-1, Kale Konen 0-1, Jade Moorist 0-3, Cole Pulliam 1-2, Kellan Wentworth 1-3, Reiser 0-1, Curnow 0-1, Vezina 0-1, Cole Johnson 0-1.
GALLATIN VALLEY (31-21) - Connor Johnson 0-2, Derik DeFrance 1-4, H. Johnson 5-5 (2B), Michael Nehring 3-5, Michael Jones 1-3, Thomas Carlson 1-1 (2B), Ryan Murphy 1-3, Brady Jones 1-1, Kamerman 1-1, Elias Dominguez 0-2.
Gallatin Valley 11, Dillon 4
Dillon 002 020 0 - 4 4 2
Gallatin Valley 104 033 x - 11 7 1
Pete Gibson, Ben Jones (5), Connor Vezina (5) and n/a. Thomas Carlson, Ryan Murphy (6). W - Carlson. L - Gibson.
DILLON - Jace Fitzgerald 2-4 (2 2B), Hunter Wentworth 0-2, P. Gibson 1-3, Preston Hales 0-3, Jade Moorist 1-3, Johnny Reiser 0-2, Connor Vezina 0-0, Jones 0-2, Jack Gibson 0-3, Cole Johnston 0-1, Kellan Wentworth 0-1.
GALLATIN VALLEY (32-21) - Connor Johnson 2-3, Derik DeFrance 0-1, Hunter Johnson 0-4, Michael Nehring 1-3, Michael Jones 0-1, Kyle Grevious (HR), Murphy 0-3, Brandy Jones 1-2, Elias Dominguez 2-2, Carlson 0-1.
Belgrade 7, Helena 6
Belgrade 000 203 2 - 7 8 0
Helena 020 210 x - 6 10 2
Justin Riekenberg, Tanner Stephenson (7) and Seth Green. Chase Nielsen, Dylan Steinmetz (7) and Trysten Mooney. W - Riekenberg. L - Nielsen.
BELGRADE (42-9) - Easton Page 0-4,
Brandon Mathews 3-4, Colton Charnholm 0-3, Riekenberg 1-3, Cole Thomas 2-4 (2 2B), Coby Richards 1-4 (3B), Green 0-3, Kamren Parsons 0-2, Jake Klonsinski 1-3.
HELENA - Mooney 1-4, Rudy Barkley 1-4, Caden Sell 2-4 (2B), Nielsen 4-4, Tyler Tenney 1-4, Eamon Burke 0-2, Hunter Lindgren 1-2 (2B), Peyton Wiham 0-2, Jake Gestring 0-2.
Helena 7, Belgrade 6
Belgrade 000 002 4 - 6 7 0
Helena 304 000 x - 7 11 1
Weston Garcia, Cooper VanLuchene (4), Derek Foster (6) and Connor Reid. Peyton Witham, Campbell Turner (7) and Trysten Mooney. W - Witham. L - Garcia.
BELGRADE (42-10) - Easton Page 1-3 (3B), Brandon Mathews 2-3, Colton Charnholm 0-3, Justin Riekenberg 1-3, Cole Thomas 1-3, Coby Richards 1-2 (2B), Reid 0-1, Seth Green 0-2, Marcos Verdeja 0-3.
HELENA - Mooney 2-4, Colby Howell 0-2, Caden Seil 1-4, Chase Nielsen 1-4, Tyler Tenney 1-4, Eamon Burke 3-3, Hunter Lindgren 0-3, Will Brent 0-3, Joe Hurlbert 2-3.