Stealing second

Josh Gier slides over the ball in his steal to second with Gallatin Valley shortstop Gianfranco Filippini on the play.

LIVINGSTON – Belgrade won its second straight Southern A District championship Sunday afternoon with a 17-7 victory against rival Gallatin Valley. The win was the second against the Gallatin Valley Outlaws in the tournament. Saturday afternoon the Bandits handed Gallatin Valley a 15-4 loss in the undefeated semifinal game.

The Saturday afternoon victory secured a spot in the state tournament that will begin Thursday in Great Falls.

Going into the tournament the Bandits didn’t want a repeat of last years district tournament where they made advanced into the semifinal game before getting beat by Dillon. Belgrade had to come back on Sunday to win two games, the win the championship Monday.

“This is a little bit easier,” said Belgrade pitcher/center fielder Brett Franklin. “This way we were able to relax a little, but not too much.”

Belgrade played four games in the tournament, winning each contest by 10 or more runs. And, all four games went only seven innings.

“We weren’t going to try to 10 run everybody. I was surprised that we did that,” said first-year Belgrade coach Johnny Graham. “That wasn’t the goal coming into the tournament. The kids battled every game. We were confident.”

Two seven run innings was all the Bandits needed to the two victories against Gallatin Valley. The Bandits scored seven runs in the sixth frame to take a 17-7 lead in the championship game. Belgrade had only two hits in the inning, but took advantage of five walks and two hit batters.

Gallatin Valley pitcher Billy Mourer remained on the hill throughout the inning. He didn’t get frustrated, going after each batter to get that third out. Mourer got Belgrade catcher Conner Switzer to ground out to third to start the inning. The second out didn’t coming until Jamis Olson laid down a bunt  single with the bases loaded. Belgrade scored on the bunt, then added another run on a walk. Olson was thrown out at third on his steal attempt.

Mourer faced seven batters before Josh Gier hit the ball back to Mourer for the third out.

“Billy kept us in the game,” said Gallatin Valley coach Duwayne Scott. “That call at home plate changed to game. It changed the whole complex of the game. With a 15-year-old pitching they get a little rattled.”

The call was that Belgrade’s Chris Gilbreaith was safe on the bunt by Olson. The umpires said that Gallatin Valley coacher Kohler Briggs didn’t have control of the ball when the runner sled under him. An out would have been the second in the frame and Belgrade may not have scored its seven runs.

“That’s the way the game goes,” said Scott. “We’re just happy to be going to state.”

Gallatin Valley came out of the starting gate hitting the ball in the first inning. Ryder Kulbeck had a single to right-center field, but was forced on on Gianfranco Filippini’s fielders choice. Tanner Johnson singled to center, followed by Justin Woodward’s double to center that scored one run.

Belgrade (38-17) answered in the bottom of the first with a run. The Bandits added five more runs in the second frame. Chris Schreckengost, Olson, and Chris Mitchell had a hit each in the frame.

The Outlaws added another run in the third, but the Bandits came back in the fourth to plate two more runs for a 10-2 lead.

Gilbreaith (8-2) walked the first three batters in the top of the fifth frame. Woodward’s double scored two runs and Conrad Schnur’s double brought in another run to cut the deficit to 10-5.

Johnson led the Outlaws from the plate with a 3-for-3 performance. Woodward was 2-for-2 with two doubles, Filippini 2-for-3 with a triple.

Schreckengost led Belgrade, going 3-for-4, Franklin and Switzer was 2-for-4.

Brock Bitterman (1-3) started on the hill for the Outlaws.

Belgrade pitchers, Gilbreaith and Josh Gier gave up 10 walks, while the Bitterman and Mourer combined for eight walks.

Franklin walked 10 batters in the semifinal game and struck out seven.Filippini, Mourer, and Conner VanDyken combined for nine walks.

“Johnny tells me to keep trying because I’ll get the call sooner or later,” said Franklin. “I just kept my focus.”

Belgrade scored five runs in the second inning and seven in the fifth for a 14-4 lead.

“We put a good tournament together. We had hard contact. We ran the bases well,” said Graham.

Championship

Belgrade 17, Gallatin Valley 7

Gallatin Valley 101  032  0 -   7    9  3

Belgrade            152  207  x -  17  12  0

Brock Bitterman, Billy Mourer ((4), and Kohler Briggs. Chris Gilbreaith, Josh Gier (6), Logan Tanner (7), and Conner Switzer. W – Gilbreaith (8-2). L – Bitterman (1-3).

GALLATIN VALLEY (33-20) – Briggs 0-3, Ryder Kulbeck 1-3, Gianfranco Filippini 2-3 (3B), Tanner Johnson 3-3 (2B), Justin Woodward 2-2 (2 2B), Conrad Schnur 1-2 (2B), Jordan Carlson 0-4, Dayne Allen 0-3, Conner VanDyken 0-3, Bitterman 0-0, Mourer 0-0.

BELGRADE (38-17) – Brett Franklin 2-4 (2B), Chris Mitchell 1-4, Trevor Mahn 1-3, Switzer 2-4 (2B), Gilbreaith 1-3, Chris Schreckengost 3-4, Josh Gier 0-1, Jamis Olson 1-4 (2B), Koby Ruff 1-2 (2B).

Belgrade 15, Gallatin Valley 4

Gallatin Valley  010  030  0 -  4    6  2

Belgrade             150  171  x - 15  10 1

Filippini, Mourer (4), VanDyken (4), and Dante Filippini. Franklin, Gier (7), and Switzer. W – Franklin (7-4). L – Gianfranco Filippini (7-4).

GALLATIN VALLEY (32-19) – Brigs 1-3, Kulbeck 1-3 (2B), Gianfranco Filippini 2-4 (HR), Johnson 0-2, Woodward 0-3, Schnur 1-4, Allen 0-2, Carlson 0-1, Dante Filippini 1-4, VanDyken 0-1.

BELGRADE ( 37-17) – Franklin 1-3, Mitchell 1-3, Mahn 2-2 (3B), Switzer 3-4 (HR), Gilbreaith 0-2, Schreckengost 1-3, Gier 0-4, Olson 0-1, Ruff 2-3.