MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (June 1–8)
PREP BASEBALL: Belmont 12, Highland 3
By Tom Gunnell
BELMONT — Belmont couldn’t wait to get its conference championship celebration started Friday night, so they got it going a little early.
Already leading 8–2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Braves struck for four more runs to invoke the 10-run rule as they put away the visiting Highland Cardinals by a score of 12–2 to clinch sole possession of the Six Rivers West baseball title at BHS Friday.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Belmont head coach Trevor Kattre after leading the Braves to their first conference title since 2016. “It really means a lot for these guys, especially coming off of not having a season last year. We were ready to go tonight, and we went out there and played really well.”
The Braves were expected to have a big season last year following their run to the WIAA Division 4 state tournament in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the spring sports season in 2020.
Kattre’s crew made sure they were ready to hit the field running in 2021 by putting in the work during the off-season.
“We were expected to have a big season last year,” said Kattre. “To lose some of those seniors was a big hit, but we kept up the energy and kept up the fire. We worked hard all winter because we wanted to make sure we ready to go this year. That hard work has shown for us.”
After Highland grabbed 1–0 lead in the top of first inning, the Braves (13–3, 8–0 SRW) struck for three runs in the bottom of the first to overtake the Cardinals (8–9, 5–3) for good. Will Cutler cracked a lead-off triple, and then Tyler Simmons lined with a RBI single to tie the score and pitcher Riley Christensen followed with a double.
Ty Palzkill plated Simmons for the go-ahead run with a ground out, and Konner Lancaster plated Christensen with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 3–1.
Highland scored a run in the second to cut the deficit back to a run, however the Braves put together a five-run rally in the home-half of the third to open up some breathing room. Kon. Lancaster and Kolby Lancaster each had RBI singles in the inning, while Danny Powell ripped a two-run double for the hosts.
Christensen led off the six by drilling a solo home run over the left field fence, and then Kolby Lancaster drove in his brother with a RBI single and Jesse Ruiz secure the 10-run rule victory by lining a two-run single to end the game early.
Christensen did not allow an earned run over five and a third innings on the hill, scattering four hits and three walks while fanning five batters to earn the win. At the plate, he helped his own cause by going 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, a RBI and three runs scored for the Braves.
Powell finished 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI, while Kolby Lancaster went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI and Konner Lancaster drove in three runs and scored twice in the game. Simmons scored twice, and Ruiz drove in two.
The Braves wrapped up an unbeaten SRW season by beating Potosi/Cassville, 3–1 in their league finale at home Monday evening.
All the scoring took place in the third inning. Sam Udelhofen doubled and scored on an error in the top of the stanza to put the Chieftains up 1–0, however the Braves responded with a three-run rally in the bottom of the inning to take over the lead for good. Michael Douglas was hit by a pitch and came around to score on an error to even the score at 1–1, and then Christensen cracked a clutch two-run single to drive in the go-ahead runs for the Braves.
Kolby and Konner Lancaster combined to keep the guests off the scoreboard the rest of the game. Kolby earned the win after going five innings and allowing one unearned run on three hits and a walk with two Ks, while Konner got the save in two scoreless innings of relief where he gave up two hits and two walks with two Ks.
Belmont received the top-seed and an opening round bye to begin the WIAA Division 4 baseball tournament. The Braves will host the winner of the regional quarterfinal game between #4 Highland and #5 Potosi/Cassvillle in a regional semifinal contest at BHS on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Belmont 12, Highland 2
(from Friday, June 4 @ Belmont)
Highland...110 000 — 2 5 1
Belmont....305 004 — 12 11 1
Leading hitters — H: Gage Hying 2x2; B: Riley Christensen 3x3 (RBI), Konner Lancaster 1x1 (3RBI), Kolby Lancaster 2x4 (2RBI), Danny Poweel 2x3 (2RBI). 2B — B: Christensen, Danny Powell. 3B — B: Christensen. HR — B: Christensen.
W — Riley Christensen (2–1, 5.3IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER, 5K, 3BB). L — Owyn Halverson (5IP, 8H, 8R, 4ER, 6K, 5BB).
Belmont 3, Potosi/Cassville 1
(from Monday, June 7 @ Belmont)
Potosi/Cassville..001 000 0 — 1 5 4
Belmont.................003 000 x — 3 3 1
Leading hitters — P/C: Ethan Kerkhoff 1x2; B: Riley Christensen 1x2 (2RBI). 2B — P/C: Sam Udelhofen.
W — Kolby Lancaster (4–1, 5IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 2K, 1BB). L — Logan Kruser (1–1, 2IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 0K, 0BB).