Blue Devils finish Buffalo Wild Wings tourney 4-1

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Glendive Blue Devils closed out the Buffalo Wild Wings Tournament in Billings on Sunday with a 12-6 comeback win against the Sheridan (WY) Jets, finishing the tournament with a 4-1 record.

Late in the game, the Blue Devils found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-4 score, but the Glendive team exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull away for the win. Blue Devils head coach Brent Diegel said his team initially came out flat Sunday afternoon before their bats finally woke up.

“We just struggled a little bit at times,” Diegel said. “We got kind of flat out there a little bit, but we mounted a comeback.”

Diegel added that his team’s fortunes in the game really changed once Sheridan pulled their starting pitcher. The Blue Devils were able to rough up the Jets’ relievers, which Diegel said was probably partly due to pitchers being worn out at the end of the long tournament.

The Blue Devils’ seventh inning comeback began when Rhett Hoffer hit a line-drive single to left with one out in the inning, bringing home Jake Rieger and Wyatt Buxbaum, who had walked and singled respectively to get the inning going. Left fielder Trenton Lambert then slapped a triple into deep right field to bring Hoffer home, with Lambert then scoring himself on a throwing error by the Jets’ right fielder.

Suddenly the Blue Devils found themselves up 8-5, but their big inning was far from over. Cade Dockter promptly singled and then was brought on in with a follow-up double from teammate Michael Rusch. Two batters later, third baseman Jayden Holley smacked a double to left, plating Rusch, and then was brought home on a follow-up single by David Skerritt to close out the Blue Devils’ scoring for the inning.

The Blue Devils added one more run in the bottom of the sixth for good measure on a fielder’s choice off the bat of catcher Ben Stortz which plated Buxbaum.

Glendive starting pitcher Tyler Clapp put in six innings for the win, giving up five earned runs on six hits while throwing five strikeouts and five walks. Clapp was sharp for much of the game aside from the top of the third, when the Jets scored four of their six runs. Trenton Reinhart came on in relief in the seventh, giving up one run but no further damage.

Buxbaum, Holley and Dockter provided much of the spark on offense. Buxbaum went 3-4 at the plate and scored three times. Holley went 2-3 with a walk, a RBI and a run scored and Dockter went 1-3 with a walk, 2 RBIs and two runs scored.

Diegel said his team was one of just two at the Buffalo Wild Wings Tournament to finish with less than two losses and that he was overall pleased with his team’s performance, though he added that with so many veteran players returning this season, his expectations of them are high every time they take the field.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Diegle said of his team’s tournament performance. “Going in there, I thought we had the opportunity to be one of the top teams. I expect every day we step on the field to compete just because of our returning leadership.”

The Blue Devils, now 11-3 to start the season, will next host the Billings Cardinals in a home doubleheader Wednesday evening, then they will travel to Laurel on Saturday for an afternoon doubleheader against the Laurel Dodgers.

Rapid City 11, Blue Devils 1

The Glendive Blue Devils had their worst outing of the season so far in their fourth game at the Buffalo Wild Wings Tournament on Saturday against the Rapid City (S.D.) Expos, as a litany of defensive miscues sank the Glendive team’s chances right from the start of the game.

The Blue Devils committed a whopping six errors in the game, including two to begin the bottom of the first inning, staking the Expos to an early 2-0 lead.

“That should have been a 1-2-3 inning, and they ended up scoring two,” bemoaned Glendive head coach Brent Diegel.

The Blue Devils did pull the score to 2-1 in the top of the second when third baseman Jayden Holley pulled off a successful steal of home plate, but that was as close as the Glendive squad would get. The Blue Devils didn’t manage much better with their bats in the game than they did their gloves, managing just two hits against Rapid City’s pitchers. The Expos, meanwhile, pounded out 12 hits and scored three of their runs off Blue Devils’ errors while only committing one fielding error themselves.

Diegel said his team was hurt by the absence of player Pacyn Partridge, who was injured in Friday’s game and unable to play against Rapid City. He said Partridge’s absence also contributed to his team’s defensive problems, as it meant shifting some players into positions they don’t usually play.

“We just didn’t come to play that game,” Diegel said. “Rapid City is a good team, but it should have been a closer game than it was.”

Blue Devils 12, Livingston 2

Glendive starting pitcher Michael Rusch tossed a no-hitter as the Blue Devils sailed past the Livingston Braves in last Friday’s action at the Buffalo Wild Wings Tournament in Billings.

Rusch was far from perfect, throwing more walks (four) than he did strikeouts (two), including issuing three walks and a wild pitch in the top of the fifth inning which led to the Braves’ only two runs. However, aside from those fifth inning control issues, Rusch largely had his way with the Braves.

Blue Devils head coach Brent Diegle noted that Livingston “wasn’t a very good team,” but added it’s still impressive anytime a pitcher manages to throw a no-hitter.

Offensively, the Blue Devils struck early and often, plating three in the bottom of the first, another run in the bottom of the second, and then breaking it open with seven runs in the bottom of the third. The Glendive squad roughed up all four pitchers the Braves trotted out to the mound.

The Blue Devils were paced on offense by Pacyn Partridge, David Skerritt and Tyler Clapp. Partridge went 2-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Skerritt went 2-2 with two walks, two RBIs and a run scored and Clapp went 1-2 with a walk, two RBIs and a run scored.

With Glendive holding a 10-run lead at the end of the fifth inning, the game was called on the mercy rule.

Reach Jason Stuart at jmstu77@hotmail.com.

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