What a way to end a game.
Billings Royals center fielder Matt Dillon blasted a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead his team to a 7-6 victory over the Billings Scarlets in a non-conference Legion baseball game Saturday at Dehler Park.
Pinch hitter Pete Lind drew a walk and the next two batters, Bryan Mitchell and Joe Zimmer, also were walked to set up Dillon’s heroics. When Dillon lined his homer to left, the Royals’ faithful erupted in cheers and the dugout cleared to meet him at home plate.
Dillon said Scarlets pitcher David Follett, who entered the game to start the inning, threw him a fastball. It was Dillon’s second home run of the year and first career grand slam.
“It feels really good,” Dillon said. “It’s a big game and we were able to come out on top.”
When he stepped into the batter’s box, Dillon said he wasn’t thinking home run. Instead, he was prepared to play small ball and take what he could get to help the team. However, Dillon gladly took the grand slam, which propelled the two-time defending state champion Royals (8-2) to their first victory over the Scarlets since the 2012 State AA championship game. The Scarlets swept the season series with the Royals last season.
“It’s a big deal to start the season off against them on the right foot,” said Dillon.
The Royals improved to 8-2 with the win, while the Scarlets fell to 7-3.
In his first Royals-Scarlets game, first-year Royals manager Matt Kimmet said he stressed to his team to “keep competing and they did and they found a way to get on the bases.
“Obviously in that situation they found a way to get on the bases and fortunately Matt squared one up.”
The Scarlets’ Gordy Sveinson had a huge game, going 3 for 4 with a double and two home runs. Sveinson belted a three-run homer to left in the second inning to give the Scarlets a 3-2 lead. He added a solo bomb to left-center in the eighth to give his club a 5-3 lead. For good measure, he hit a run-scoring double in the fourth. Overall, Sveinson had five RBIs and scored two runs.
“That’s one of the better games I’ve seen him play. It was awesome,” said Scarlets coach Adam Hust of Sveinson.
Hust, a veteran coach who also played for the Scarlets, said he can’t remember another Royals-Scarlets game ending with a grand slam. Hust is confident his team will bounce back.
“It was a great game all the way around; two teams playing hard. It was fun,” he said.
“It’s a non-conference game and early in the season. We can come back and battle. We have a lot of time to do some things. … We’re only 10 games into the season.”
NOTES: The scoreboard’s video board worked and projected the players’ pictures when they were at bat. However, the runs per inning, count, outs and totals columns did not work due to a short in the system. … The Royals do not play again until June 6 at Dehler against the Scarlets. … The Scarlets’ next games are a pair of doubleheaders against Rapid City (S.D.) May 31 and June 1 at Dehler.