Redbirds lose championship in extra inning

Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

Members of the Redbird American Legion baseball team that finished second in the Harold Gjerde Memorial Tournament here in Lewistown this weekend are (from left) Eric Knox, Kendall Barta, Noah Kirsch, Isaac Fry, Tyler Lee, Flynn Southworth, Kyle Lee, Cody Henderson, Nate Kindzerski, Jake Henderson, Jake Clinton, Ben Kolar, Hunter Schell, Andrew Lalum, and Zach Jensen.                                                  Photos by Doreen Heintz

Cody Henderson delivers a pitch to the plate in the Redbirds’ win over Powell, Wyoming. Henderson gave up four hits in the 14-2 win.

he Lewistown American Legion baseball team played some of their best baseball of the year during this year’s Harold Gjerde Memorial Tournament. In four of the five games the Redbirds played, they came away with wins. The championship contest between the Redbirds and the Gallatin Valley Outlaws went into an extra inning before the Outlaws scored a 6-5 victory.
Following the championship contest, a dejected group of Redbirds accepted their second-place trophy from Jim Clinton. Entering the championship game, the Redbirds were soaring high. On Thursday they scored a 4-2 win over a strong Billings Angels team, with Andrew Lalum pitching seven innings of four-hit ball. Lalum gave up only two earned runs in the contest and struck out eight Angel batters.
Friday the Redbirds played back-to-back games against Glasgow and Richland County. In the first Friday evening contest, Lewistown blasted an old nemesis, the Glasgow Reds, 12-1, in five innings. On the mound for the Birds was Eric Knox who also threw a four hitter. The Reds’ only run came in the top of the first inning. From then on, Knox shut out the Reds.
Coach Scott Sparks sent Hunter Schell to the mound against the Richland County Patriots. It took six innings before Lewistown shut down the contest due to the 10-run mercy rule. The Patriots were not able to score any runs against Schell until the top of the sixth inning when they plated three runs. Redbird closer Ben Kolar came into the contest with one out in the top of the sixth to shut down the Patriots. Lewistown scored five runs in the bottom half of the sixth to take the 13-3 win.
Saturday, the Redbirds played the Powell Pioneers. In another four-hitter, Cody Henderson pitched five innings to lead the Redbirds to a 14-2 win. The win over Powell moved the Redbirds into the championship contest of the Gjerde Tournament against Gallatin Valley. Last year the same two teams met for the championship, with the Outlaws winning, 12-11.
Tyler Lee took the mound for the Redbirds in the championship contest. After both teams went scoreless in the first inning, it looked as though the Outlaws would take the lead in the top of the second inning when they loaded the bases with no outs. An Outlaw batter drove a ball deep into right field, but Hunter Schell made a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch for the first out. With the Outlaws running on the play, Schell threw the ball to first baseman Jake Clinton to double off the runner at first who had not tagged up on the fly-ball catch. Clinton then threw the ball to shortstop Lalum who stepped on second to complete the triple play.
Lewistown put a single run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning to take a 1-0 lead. Nate Kindzerski singled and then went to second on the overthrow at first. A sacrifice bunt by Isaac Fry moved Kindzerski to third with only one out. But Knox lined out for the second out. Lalum’s single scored Kindzerski with the first run of the contest. Singles by Schell and Lee loaded the bases, and brought Kyle Lee to the plate, but Lee ended up striking out, leaving the three Redbird runners stranded.
Gallatin Valley tied the score in the top of the fourth inning. Lewistown added a run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. Fry began the bottom of the sixth with a single, After Knox flew out to centerfield, Lalum walked to put runners on first and second. Fry and Lalum each moved up a base on a wild pitch with Schell at the plate. Schell then walked to load the bases. With Tyler Lee batting, Fry attempted to come home on a passed ball, but was called out by the home plate umpire. Lee walked to reload the bases. Kyle Lee then beat a throw to first base on a slow dribbler, allowing Lalum to score from third. The inning ended on a well-hit ball by Henderson toward the Outlaw third baseman, but the third baseman stepped on third for the force to end the inning.
The score was tied 3-3 after six innings of play.  Gallatin Valley added two runs in the top of the sixth, and the Redbirds scored a run in the bottom of the inning.
The Redbirds’ run in the sixth came when they loaded the bases and Fry walked to force in a run from third. Knox’s deep fly ball to centerfield was caught for the final out to end the Birds’ rally.
Both teams went scoreless in the seventh inning to send the game into an extra inning. Tyler Lee was still on the mound for the Birds in the eighth. Lee allowed the first two Gallatin Valley batters to hit singles. A Lee wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Coach Sparks had the next Outlaw batter intentionally walked to load the bases. With the Redbird infield drawn in for a possible throw home for a force out, an Outlaw double down the first base line allowed two Outlaw runs to score. Sparks sent in closer Kolar to end the Gallatin Valley threat. Kolar got the next Outlaw batter to fly out to centerfield, but the Outlaws now held a 6-3 lead.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Lalum singled up the middle. An error by the Gallatin Valley second baseman on a Schell hit moved Lalum to third and Schell was safe at first. Schell quickly stole second base with Tyler Lee batting for the Birds. Lalum scored on a wild pitch, which was also Lee’s fourth ball. Lewistown was now down by only two runs with one out and runners on first and third. Kyle Lee’s single down the third baseline scored Schell from third and moved Tyler Lee to second. Henderson hit a fly ball that was dropped by the Outlaw centerfielder, but Lee was forced out at third as he had to wait at second to see if the ball was caught. The game ended when the Outlaw catcher caught Jake Clinton’s foul fly ball for the third out of the inning.

Redbirds travel to Canada
This week Lewistown makes its first trip of the season into Canada to face two conference opponents. Friday the Redbirds will be in Medicine Hat for a conference doubleheader against the Knights. Game times are 5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday Lewistown faces the Vauxhall Spurs in another conference doubleheader. Game times in Vauxhall are 3 and 5:30 p.m.
Conference play continues the following week when the Birds travel to Conrad on Tuesday, June 27 to battle the Tri-County Cardinals at 2 and 4 p.m.



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