Blue Devils experiencing early season success

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photo

Blue Devil Jake Rieger gets a hit during the a game against Glasgow Sunday. The Blue Devils started their season 9-2.

The Glendive Blue Devils continues their hot start to the season with a pair of wins Thursday afternoon to open the Buffalo Wild Wings Tournament in Billings, pushing the Blue Devils to a 9-2 record heading into Friday afternoon’s tourney game against Livingston.

In the first game of the tournament on Thursday, the Glendive squad delivered a 17-2 shellacking of the Billings Cardinals. The Blue Devils were powered in the game by a dominant pitching performance by starter David Skerritt and by the hot bats of Trenton Lambert, Jayden Holley and Jake Rieger.

The Blue Devils struck quickly against the Cardinals in the top of the first on a two-run double to centerfield by Holley. The Cardinals cut the lead to one in the bottom of the first on a double which plated a runner who had reached base on an error, but the Billings team would never get any closer.

The Blue Devils added three more runs in the top of the second and never looked back from there. Cade Dockter singled in Wyatt Buxbaum after Buxbaum had doubled to lead off the inning, Zach Harris scored on a rare steal of home plate and Dockter ultimately reached home on a fielder’s choice, moving the Blue Devils’ lead out to 5-1.

Glendive added two more runs in the third inning on a balk which plated Buxbaum and another fielder’s choice which brought in Harris. They added a couple of more runs in the top of the sixth before really pouring it on in the seventh.

The Blue Devils plated eight men in the top of the seventh, spurred by a grand slam over the left field fence off the bat of Lambert after they loaded the bases to start the inning, allowing them to cruise through the final half inning to an easy win.

Skerritt, as noted, was absolutely dominant on the bump for the Blue Devils, surrendering just one earned run - scored on a fielder’s choice in the sixth - and finishing the complete game with four strikeouts, with 22 first-pitch strikes. Blue Devils head coach Brent Diegel said it was a fantastic performance on the mound by his starter.

“That was probably his best outing this year,” Diegel said. “He was in the strike zone all day and was throwing the ball hard.”

On offense, Lambert led with 4 RBIs off his one hit of the game, the grand slam, while Holley added 3 RBIs while going 2-4 at the plate. Dockter and Pacyn Partridge each added a pair of RBIs and Rieger scored three times while going 2-3 at the plate with two walks.

Blue Devils 4, Cheyenne Hawks 3

In the second game Thursday in Billings, the Blue Devils managed to outlast a strong team out of Cheyenne, Wyo.

The Hawks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first after a single off starting pitcher Wyatt Buxbaum plated a run, but it didn’t last long as Cade Dockter delivered a moon shot in the bottom of the first to quickly tie the game at one run apiece.

Dockter led off the bottom of the first and smoked the third pitch he saw deep into left. Diegel said it was an impressive shot that helped ignite his team.

“We were down 1-0 and the third pitch he hit it off the scoreboard,” Diegel said. “It’s a big ballpark so he got it pretty good.”

The Blue Devils took a lead they would never relinquish in the bottom of the second. Lambert drilled a double to right which brought home Rieger and Sean Taylor, with Lambert making it to third on the throw. Lambert came on in after Dockter knocked an infield grounder which was booted by the Hawks’ third baseman, giving the Blue Devils an easy free run and a 4-1 lead.

Glendive did not hit the ball with the same vigor in the second game, but Diegle said they did just enough.

“We didn’t hit the ball quite as good the second game, but it was good enough to win, I guess,” he said.

Offensively, no Blue Devils player finished the game with more than one hit, and Cheyenne actually out-hit Glendive 6-5. Lambert and Dockter accounted for all the team’s RBIs, with Lambert knocking in two and Dockter one on his solo homer.

The Blue Devils got a little sloppy in the field in the top of the third, committing two errors which ultimately led to a pair of runs for Cheyenne, but they were able to get out without any more damage and the Hawks never really threatened after that.

Despite a shaky start from Buxbaum on the mound which almost made him consider an early hook in the first couple innings, Diegel said his starter ultimately settled in and delivered an overall quality start, going 5 2/3 innings and striking out seven men before turning it over to Holley to close things out.

“Wyatt really struggled out there the first couple of innings, but he really composed himself well and turned in a good start for us,” he said.

Holley came in to finish the sixth and came back out to close the seventh and quickly retired all four batters he faced for the save and what Diegel said was a quality win for his team over a very good opponent.

“Jayden came in and closed the door on them and that was a pretty big win,” Diegel said. “That Cheyenne team is a pretty good team, so we were happy to get that win.”

Now sporting a 9-2 record and with a great start to the Billings tournament, Diegel said he thinks this year’s Blue Devils squad may be capable of accomplishing great things.

“We return a lot of kids so we’ve got a veteran team, so expectations are pretty high, I guess,” Diegle said. “If we can eliminate the mental mistakes and focus on executing we think this team can go a long ways.”

Blue Devils 17, Billings Cardinals 2

GLEN 2 3 2 0 0 2 8 17 11 3

BLLN 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 2 3

Batting:

2B: Wyatt Buxbaum, Jayden Holley

HR: Trenton Lambert

RBI: Tyler Clapp, Cade Dockter 2, Zach

Harris, Jayden Holley 3, Trenton Lambert 4, Paycn Partridge 2, David Skerritt

Pitching: I P H R ER SO BB

David Skerritt 7 83 2 2 1 4 3

Blue Devils 4, Cheyenne Hawks 3

CHYN 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 6 2

GLEN 1 3 0 0 0 0 X 4 5 2

Batting 2B: Trenton Lambert

HR: Cade Dockter

TB: Tyler Clapp, Cade Dockter 4, Jayden Holley, Trenton Lambert 2, Sean Daniel

Taylor

RBI: Cade Dockter, Trenton Lambert 2

Pitching: I P H R ER SO BB Wyatt Buxbaum 5.2 107 6 3 1 7 3 Jayden Holley 1.1 11 0 0 0 1 0

Reach Jason Stuart at jmstu77@hotmail.com .

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