Longtime Gallatin Valley coach Duwayne Scott noted that Michael Jones is at his best when faced with adversity. That explains how the senior pitcher managed to work out of a serious jam Tuesday at Medina Field.
The Outlaws had taken a 3-run lead into the bottom of the sixth, but Jones walked the first two batters and then hit the third to load the bases with no outs. A pitching change appeared imminent, but following a meeting at the mound Scott opted to stick with his starter.
Jones responded by striking out the next three batters — Belgrade’s Coby Richards, Seth Green, and Lane Neill — to get out of the jam.
“To strike three straight guys out after giving them three bases,” Scott said, “I thought was pretty good and indicative of what a pitcher is.”
Bo Hays closed out the contest on the mound in the seventh as Gallatin Valley held for a 4-1 victory to salvage a Southern A split. The Bandits had won the opener 7-0.
Bandits coach Johnny Graham noted his team struggled to get runners on base against Jones, who allowed just one hit. The team’s plate approach was not good, Graham lamented, and it was a huge missed opportunity in the sixth.
“I don’t want to discredit Michael, it was a great job by him,” said Graham. “But I think if we compete right there and put the ball in play then you never know. Even the seventh inning, there was a punch out in there too.”
Gallatin Valley (7-9, 3-1) scored a run in the first inning following the Game 1 shut out, and then added three more in the fifth. The frame was highlighted by Hunter Johnson’s two-run double to center.
In the opener, Richards dominated on the mound for the Bandits. The sophomore retired Gallatin Valley in order through three innings of play, which includes striking out the side in the third, and scattered four hits.
“Coby was a bulldog on the mound,” Graham said. “I thought the presence he put off, the pace he competed with — he was really efficient and really attacking. He was phenomenal.”
By the time Johnson singled for the Outlaws in the fourth, Richards was on cruise control. He had inning-ending strike outs in the fifth and sixth and then worked out of jam in the seventh, after giving up a double and a walk, with a strike out to end the game.
“Coby handled us pretty good, which I hate to say, but I actually thought that was going to happen just because we’ve been off for three days,” Outlaws coach Duwyane Scott said. “Haven’t had a whole ton of reps against good pitching for a while, so I figured that could happen to us.”
Belgrade (13-6, 3-1) capitalized on a couple of early errors to plate three runs in the first and then added two more in the third on an RBI-double by Richards and an RBI-single by Green.
The early lead was more than enough cushion for Richards, who threw a complete game.
“I like the way we responded actually after the first three innings. I thought we had better at-bats. Four, five, six and seven — we just couldn’t come up and string hits together,” said Scott. “We know what kind of arm Coby has and when he’s on the mound it’s going to be a battle. Hopefully we see him in July and hopefully we have an answer for him.”
Belgrade is back in action Thursday for a four-day a tournament in Billings.
“Hopefully we play well,” said Graham. “Have to dig into the bullpen and find some spot starters a little bit. We’ll see how it goes.”
Belgrade 7, Gallatin Valley 0
Gallatin Valley 000 000 0 - 0 4 3
Belgrade 302 101 x - 7 10 0
Michael Nehring, Caleb Kamerman (6) and Hunter Johnson. Coby Richards and Seth Green. W - Richards. L - Nehring.
GALLATIN VALLEY (6-9) - Connor Johnson 1-3, Dalton Mitchell 1-3, Kyle Grevious 0-3, Nehring 0-3, Michael Jones 2-3 (2B), H. Johnson 0-2, Isacc Richardson 0-2, Gabriel Delgatty 0-2, Kaeson Long 0-1, Brady Jones 0-2.
BELGRADE (13-5) - Easton Page 2-3 (2B), Cole Thomas 2-4 (2B), Brandon Matthews 1-3, Coby Richards 1-2 (2B), Green 1-2, Lane Neill 0-3, Cooper VanLuchene 1-1, Marcos Verdeja 0-2, Isaiah Brandhorst 0-2.
Gallatin Valley 4, Belgrade 1
Gallatin Valley 100 030 0 - 4 7 0
Belgrade 000 010 0 - 1 1 3
Michael Jones, Bo Hays (7) and Hunter Johnson. Cooper VanLuchene, Lane Neill (6) and Seth Green. W - Jones. L - VanLuchene.
GALLATIN VALLEY (7-9) - Connor Johnson 1-4, Dalton Mitchell 1-4, Kyle Grevious 0-3, Jones 1-3, Hunter Johnson 2-3 (2B), Isaac Richardson 0-4, Hays 1-2, Josh Wisecarver 0-2.
BELGRADE (13-6) - Easton Page 1-2, Isaiah Brandhorst 0-2, Brandon Matthews 0-0, Cole Thomas 0-2, Coby Richards 0-3, Seth Green 0-3, Lane Neill 0-2, Cooper VanLuchene 0-3, Marcos Verdeja 0-2, Jake Klonsinski 1-3.