KALISPELL — It was a big day for the Billings Scarlets, and they could do no wrong.
They brought out the heavy bats in a 17-1 triumph over the Kalispell Lakers in an elimination game of the American Legion Class AA state tournament on Tuesday at Griffin Field.
The Scarlets secured the game in the top of the fifth inning when they scored 16 runs as they sent 22 batters to the plate. It took four pitchers for the Lakers to get out of the inning.
"I don't think I've every seen anything like that before," Scarlets coach Adam Hust said. "I've been doing this a long time, and what an inning."
The Scarlets pounded out 20 hits in the game. Christian Michaelson, Taylor Musgrave, Jarron Wilcox and Koby Croft had three hits each.
"I just think everybody was tuned in today," Hust said. "It was elimination day. Everyone's focus was a little bit better. When you focus, things become easy. So hopefully, we can keep that momentum rolling into tomorrow. We get to play more baseball. This is fun."
Ben Tallman highlighted the big inning with a three-run home run. He drove in five runs on the day.
"It's a 1-0 game with one out and we missed a spot and they took advantage of it with a three-run home run to make it 4-0," Lakers coach Ryan Malmin said. "That created energy for them. They hit the ball where we are not and we complicate things with an error. It is what it is after that."
The Scarlets move on to a 4 p.m. game Wednesday against either the Lethbridge Elks to begin the championship round.
"It doesn't matter either way," Hust said. "Either way we have to play two baseball games tomorrow to win it. If it's Lethbridge and the Royals or the Royals twice, it's still two games. Either way, we are going to have to battle and leave it all out on the field tomorrow, and hopefully things work out for us."
Ryan Paul pitched a five-inning complete game for the Scarlets. He allowed only one hit through four innings. The Lakers put four hits together in the fifth to score their lone run – driven in by Ryan Symmes.
"I don't want to take anything away from the kids and the season they did have," Malmin said. "That was our third loss in the entire month of July. We are proud of the kids and what they where able to accomplish, being one game shy of the state championship game."
Lethbridge 12, Royals 7
The Lethbridge Elks won an extra-innings game with the Billings Royals to hold off elimination for another day and reach the championship round of the tournament.
The Elks face the Billings Scarlets at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The winner of that game moves on to face the Royals again at 7 p.m. for the title.
The Royals knew they were in the championship round, win or lose against the Elks. However, the Royals went after that game for the positioning.
The Royals scored one in the first inning and three runs in the fourth to take control of the game. The Elks then chipped away at the lead with two in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Lethbridge then won the team in the top of the ninth inning with an eight-run outburst. The Elks pounded out 18 hits and play stellar defense get out of jams.