Scuffling Scarlets drop two more, prepare for Royals

2014-07-02T23:28:00Z 2014-07-03T01:02:14Z Scuffling Scarlets drop two more, prepare for RoyalsBy GREG RACHAC The Billings Gazette

The struggling Scarlets searched for answers Wednesday night after being swept in a conference doubleheader for the second time in four days. But solutions weren’t immediately handy.

“If I knew what it was we’d have it fixed already,” coach Adam Hust lamented after his team lost 7-6 and 7-4 to rival Bozeman at Dehler Park. “We just need to dig deep and have some heart and battle through this thing.”

The Scarlets lost both ends of a doubleheader to Great Falls at Pirtz Field in their previous outing on Sunday, and have now lost six of their last eight games.

They led late in the opener against Bozeman, but the Bucks rallied for four runs in the seventh to steal it away. It was a precursor for the second game, which Bozeman took control of on important extra-base hits by Chad Mackay and Bennett Hostetler, and strong relief pitching by Nate Lamberty.

The Scarlets (20-12-1, 6-6), a team that won its first four conference games, now sit at .500 with a huge game against the Royals on deck Thursday night. The game marks the annual “Legion Against Cancer” night.

“It’s been a rough stretch of games and there’s not a whole lot of energy right now,” said Scarlets catcher Elijah Sommerville, who went 4 for 5 in the doubleheader. “We need to find a way to get that back up to where it was at the beginning of the season. Baseball’s not very fun when you’re losing.”

Hust said Gordy Sveinson, who belted a solo home run on Wednesday, will pitch against the Royals. Sveinson, a right-hander, threw a three-hit gem in a victory at Kalispell last week.

The Royals (21-10, 4-4) come into Thursday’s game fresh off a road sweep of Great Falls on Tuesday.

“It’s (Sveinson’s) turn. Hopefully he goes out and pummels the (strike) zone and we go out and get him some run support,” Hust said. “The biggest thing is coming out and having fun and working with each other. We’ve got to fix this as a team and we’ve got to move on as a team. It’s going to take a full effort from everybody.”

Legion fights cancer

The fourth annual “Legion Against Cancer” campaign is one of the hallmark events of the season for the local baseball program. The game between the Scarlets and Royals, while not a subplot, is just one part of the commemoration.

Funds raised will benefit the Billings Clinic Cancer Center’s PATHWAYS survivorship programs. Survivors and those who have succumbed to cancer will be honored and remembered during the game.

Players will wear special dedication jerseys, and a symbolic balloon release will take place after the ceremonial first pitch. Billings Cardinals player Riley Bruns, recently lost his father to cancer, will throw out the first pitch.

Fans will have the opportunity to upload messages and photos of loved ones to the video board to be broadcast on the scoreboard during the game.

Events begin at 6:45.

“It’s a game that means a lot to all of us,” Sommerville said. “Everyone has been influenced by cancer in one way or another. I’m looking forward to the whole atmosphere. It’s going to be a good night.”

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