Griz give respect to Big Sky All-Stars

2011-08-25T18:43:00Z 2011-08-25T19:27:58Z Griz give respect to Big Sky All-StarsGreg Rachac The Billings Gazette

This truly is Montana's team.

The Big Sky All-Stars' history-making run trough the Little League World Series ranks as one of the most incredible local sports stories of all-time, but even members of the Montana Grizzlies football squad way out west in Missoula have enjoyed the ride.

Sam Gratton, a one-time standout at Senior and now a wide receiver with the Griz, was a member of an all-star team from the Big Sky Little League back in the day, but that team got no further than the regional tournament in San Bernardino, Calif.

After a scrimmage Thursday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, Gratton beamed when talking about this year's group, which advanced to the championship game of the U.S. bracket with a 1-0 victory yesterday over the heavily favored team from Huntington Beach, Calif.

The game was won on Ben Askelson's walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh.

Said Gratton:

"I didn't get a chance to watch last night's game against California, but it's so sweet. I watch them every chance I get. It's been hard through camp, but I'm so pumped. I think they're gonna do it."

Bryan Waldhauser, an All-Big Sky defensive tackle, said he doled out some ribbing to a few of his teammates from California after the boys from Billings knocked of Huntington Beach.

Commented Waldo:

"We have California guys on the team, and we've been giving them a hard time about Montana kids playing a little baseball. It's an awesome thing for those kids. I just think it's a great thing for Montana to come together and support them. I hope they go all the way and win it."

Even head coach Robin Pflugrad, who is busy with a hectic fall camp schedule, has taken note, saying:

"I usually get home about 11 (p.m.), so all the news is done. But last night I was home and I happened to see the sports. It was awesome. It was really neat. I love to see it."

The Big Sky All-Stars have already elevated themselves to the status of state-wide heroes. And with the U.S. championship game still to play, they're not done yet.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Greg Rachac

Sportswriter for The Billings Gazette covering Montana and Montana State athletics in addition to various high school sports.

Slim Kimmel

Online sports editor for The Billings Gazette.

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