BILLINGS — Dann Blanchard pitched a complete game, one-run gem against the Billings Scarlets the first time he faced them this season. Exactly one month later, the Billings Royals right-hander delivered the same performance.
The only difference: he finally got his chance to deal at Dehler.
Blanchard allowed four hits and no walks with five strikeouts in a 3-1 win Monday night at Dehler Park. The Royals (15-14-1, 5-4) are now 2-1 this season against the Scarlets (15-15, 5-6), and Blanchard has pitched all 14 innings of both victories.
“I had the same emotions,” Blanchard said, comparing Monday’s game to the first one against the Scarlets. “But playing at Dehler, especially against these guys and coming out and winning, it’s even bigger.”
The first meeting between the Class AA American Legion baseball teams on May 24 was scheduled to be played at Dehler, but rain moved the game to Pirtz Field. After the 6-1 Royals win, Blanchard told 406mtsports.com, “At first it was a little bit of a bummer” that the crosstown rivals couldn’t play at the Billings Mustangs’ home ballpark.
Blanchard didn’t pitch against the Scarlets on May 31, and he watched Andy Larsen shut the Royals down in a 5-1 Scarlets win at Dehler.
The opponent was enough of a reason for Blanchard to get excited for Monday’s game, but he received an extra jolt of energy after not pitching at last week’s Goldsmith Gallery Tournament.
“All day long, I was just trying to get to the field. It seemed like the day was going forever,” Blanchard said. “Finally got out here, and did what we needed to do.”
Rain delayed the start of Monday’s game, and Blanchard worried he would again be denied a date at Dehler. Luckily for him, the skies cleared and the game began about 30 minutes after the scheduled start time.
Larsen took the hill for the Scarlets again on Monday, and a battle of aces commenced. Larsen also pitched a complete game, allowing one earned run on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
The Scarlets’ lefty also took the loss, thanks largely to mistakes. An error sparked a two-run Royals rally in the bottom of the third inning, and Larsen threw a wild pitch with two outs to plate the second run.
Cole Miller (1 for 2 with a walk) blasted an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth, and Blanchard did his thing in the seventh. He picked off Brooks Rohrer at first base to end the game.
“We made mistakes tonight that cost us the game again, and it’s gonna be a long month of July unless we figure out how to stop those mistakes from happening,” said Scarlets coach Adam Hust. “We’re still working hard, we’re doing what we need to do, just one, two mistakes are costing us every time.”
Royals designated hitter Jaxon Wittmayer went 2 for 3, while Larsen went 2 for 3 and teammate Christian Michaelson hit a double and made a diving, run-saving catch in center field to end the sixth.
Cole Miller launched a double to score Brenden Concepcion and increase the Royals’ lead to 3-1 over the Scarlets in the B6.— Victor Flores (@VictorFlores_BG) June 25, 2019
Brendan Miller nearly made it 4-1, but Christian Michaelson robbed him with this diving catch to end the inning. #MTscores pic.twitter.com/lGgbMmylEW