LETHBRIDGE, Alberta – Making the most of its opportunities, the Billings Royals scored three unearned runs in the sixth inning for a 3-1 victory over the Lethbridge Elks on Thursday night in the semifinal of the Class AA American Legion State Tournament.
The Royals (47-14) advance to Saturday's championship game for a third year in a row regardless of how they fare in their game against Medicine Hat at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The Royals have won 10 straight games.
They are trying to become the first Class AA team to win three consecutive titles since the Helena Senators (2001-03).
Missoula, which stayed alive with a 5-4 win over the Billings Scarlets, will play Lethbridge at 10:30 a.m.
"It was a battle today," Royals coach Matt Kimmet said. "I am extremely proud of the boys for sticking with it today. Lethbridge gave us all we could handle. They are a great team with quality coaches."
The Royals scored all three runs after two outs, piecing together a walk, flyout, single, walk and single to go along with two errors.
Kevin Angland, Baylee Slevira and Bryan Mitchell scored the Billings runs.
Matt Dillon had three hits. Konner Wiechman and Tanner Leenknecht had two each.
Austin Vogel pitched the first eight innings to earn the win. He scattered four hits, striking out three and walking one. Joe Zimmer pitched the ninth to earn the save. He struck out two.
"Austin Vogel was a stud for us today," Kimmet said. "He has improved with every outing this season.
"All we have asked of the boys all year was to put the team first and continue to get better each day. I really feel like we have done that and now we have a chance to win the whole thing. Tomorrow (Friday) is a huge game. We know the importance of it and I expect the boys to play great baseball."
Missoula edges Scarlets
Josh Meader’s RBI first-pitch single in the eighth inning was enough to give the Missoula Mavericks a 5-4 win over the Billings Scarlets in a loser-out game.
The Scarlets finish the season 36-21-1.
They had dropped to the loser-out bracket after a 14-2 loss to the Billings Royals on Wednesday.
Meader’s game-winning hit scored Jesson Preston who had single earlier in his at-bat.
The Scarlets made three changes before Meader’s at-bat, moving Shelby Zorn to catcher, bringing in Gordy Sveinson to pitch for Collin Maier, who moved to first base, replacing Elijah Sommerville. Billings also had Jake McGovern take Sveinson’s spot at second base.
Sveinson had two hits and two RBIs for the Scarlets, while Jake Tallman, Jayson Leinwand, Zorn and McGovern had two hits apiece.
Dodgers post easy win
LEWISTOWN -- The Laurel Dodgers advanced to the Class A American Legion State title game with an easy 9-1 win over the Glacier Twins.
The Dodgers (48-15) play Belgrade at 7 p.m. Friday.
Glacier takes on Mission Valley at 4 p.m. in a loser-out game.
Belgrade stayed alive with a 17-2 win over Lewistown, while Mission Valley eliminated Gallatin Valley with a 6-3 win.
After scoring four runs in the first three innings, Laurel broke the game open with a five-run fifth.
Bryson McGann had two RBIs for the Dodgers, while Dakota Cortese had three hits. Mason O'Donnell had two hits, an RBI and scored two runs for the winners.
That was more than enough for starting pitcher Brendan Cellmer who went seven innings. John Preller finished the last two innings for Laurel.
Glacier had six errors.