State A American Legion Baseball: Vauxhall Spurs smash way into championship

FLORENCE – The lone team from north of the border is having plenty of success at the State A American Legion Baseball tournament in Florence. The Vauxhall Spurs hammered the Laurel Dodgers 14-4 in a meeting of the two unbeaten teams in the bracket. The North district champs now clinch a spot in Wednesday’s championship game.

In loser-out games earlier on Monday, the hosting Bitterroot Bucs stayed alive by clipping the Mission Valley Mariners, 9-8. The Gallatin Valley Outlaws shut out South division rival Dillon to send the Cubs home, 10-0.

On Tuesday, Bitterroot and Laurel will meet in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Gallatin Valley will try to stay alive and hand Vauxhall its first loss in the double-elimination bracket at 4 p.m.

VAUXHALL 14, LAUREL 4

Vauxhall’s offense battered Laurel’s pitching all game long. The Spurs scored at least one run in every inning but the second. John-Markus Vulcano and Aaron Vulcano each drove in runs with singles in the first inning. Blake Kondor and Carson Cleland added RBI singles in the third innings to push the lead to 5-0. Then John-Markus Vulcano blasted a solo home run to left in the fourth inning to push the lead to 6-0.

Laurel would put together its only rally of the contest in the bottom of the fourth. Canu Golden doubled in a run. Then a walk with the bases loaded and a sacrifice fly cut the Spurs lead in half.

But the Dodgers would get no closer. Vauxhall scores three more runs on only two hits in the top of the fifth inning to push the lead back to 9-3. The Spurs added two more in the top of the sixth and three more runs in the top of the seventh.

The two Vulcano’s combined to go 6-11 with seven runs scored and four RBI. Cleland drove in five runs while going 2-5.

Vauxhall will play in Wednesday’s championship. For updated scores and pairings click here.

GALLATIN VALLEY 10, DILLON 0

The South district champs took out the South district runners-up in quick fashion. Gallatin Valley scored in every inning, finishing the game due to the ten-run rule in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Hunter Johnson started the scoring with a two-run base hit in the bottom of the first inning. The Outlaws built a 5-0 advantage by the bottom of the fourth inning. Gabriel Delgatty and Isaac Richardson provided back-to-back RBI hits to ignite a four-run burst that further blew the game open. Richardson then ended the game with a two-out single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring Gallatin Valley’s tenth run.

Michael Nehring was just as dominant on the mound for the Outlaws, only giving up two hits while striking out six Cubs batters for a five-inning complete game.

BITTERROOT 9, MISSION VALLEY 8

The two surprise state contestants from the West provided the most drama in the tournament’s third day. Mission Valley won the West district tournament on a miraculous run as the six-seed. The Bitterroot Bucs ranked eighth out of eight teams in the district, but got a spot in state as the hosts. Now they’ve won a couple games in the big bracket.

The two conference rivals went back and forth throughout. Bitterroot struck first with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Mission Valley responded with seven runs over the next two innings. Eric Dolence launched a three-run home run in the top of the third inning to put the Mariners in front. Dawson Dumont drove in a two more with a triple in the top of the fourth inning. Mission Valley took an 8-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Brenden Bailey brought in two runs with a clutch two-out double in that inning, bringing the Bucs back within one run. Brendan Schneiter tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Johnny Lineback put the Bucs back in front with a sacrifice fly later in the sixth.

Bitterroot pitcher Zach Christopherson did allow the tying run to reach base in the top of the seventh inning, but he finished the game with a strikeout to keep the Bucs alive. He only gave up one run in four innings of relief.

Schneiter and Jake Scully both went 3-3 at the plate for Bitterroot.

Derek Buerkle

Derek Buerkle

Derek has worked in sports at KPAX-TV in Missoula since 2007. He grew up in Big Timber, Montana, and attended the University of Montana journalism program.
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