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Belmont goes 1–2, ties for 5th at Babe Ruth State tourney
Braves rally to defeat Fennimore 5–3 in opening game
Freshman Kolby Lancaster delivered this clutch RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Belmont the lead and was also the winning pitcher in the Braves’ 5–3 victory over Fennimore Friday morning. - photo by Jason Nihles

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN — The Belmont Babe Ruth summer baseball team made the most of every moment in its abbreviated five-week 2020 summer season.

It all came to an end Sunday night with a 17–4 five-inning loss to fourth seeded Dodgeville in the single elimination championship bracket of the 2020 Babe Ruth 18U State Tournament at Dillman Memorial Field on St. Feriole Island.

The Braves finished 1–2 at the four-day 11-team tournament and tied for fifth-place with fellow quarterfinal losers Kaukauna, Eau Claire 18U and Cross Plains.

Belmont’s game with Dodgeville was originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday, but did not start until after 6:30 due to a three-hour rain delay that halted the tournament Sunday morning.

The later start didn’t effect the Dodgers, who scored twice in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run single by Dylan Wasley against Belmont senior starter Riley Christensen, and added another run in the second on a sac fly by Ayden Halverson.

Dodgeville then blew the game wide open with a 12-run third inning. The Dodgers sent 17 batters to the plate in the inning; the first 11 reached base on eight singles, two walks an one hit by pitch and all scored as the Dodgers claimed a insurmountable 15–1 lead.

“We just ran out out pitching,” said Belmont head coach Trevor Kattre. “Sore arms and limited staff hurt us.”

Belmont scored its first run on an RBI single by Christensen in the top of the third. Freshman Konner Lancaster was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the fourth and later scored on senior Kolton Westemeier’s RBI single.  Senior Justan Ernst later drew a bases loaded walk later in the inning to make it 15–3.

The Dodgers committed back-to-back errors in the top of the fifth as senior Will Cutler scored from second when fellow senior Cody Lindholm reached on an error by the Dodgeville shortstop.

Dodgeville advanced to Monday’s semifinals before a 6–3 lost to eventual champion Viroqua. 

The top-seeded Blackhawks went (41–19, 4–0 at state) went on to win the 2020 Babe Ruth U18 state championship in dramatic fashion Monday night. Griffin Olson’s two-out bases loaded RBI single in the bottom of the ninth lifted Viroqua to an 8–7 victory over host Prairie du Chien (25–13, 3–3 at state) in Monday afternoon’s title game.

Belmont finished the summer Babe Ruth season with an overall record of  6–9–1, but the experience was much more than the final overall record.

“We had a lot of fun participating in the state tournament,” said Kattre. “I was nice to spend a weekend away from everything and just play some baseball. We were also very grateful to play baseball this summer. We’ve gotten better each and every day. It was just nice to get back to normal again and not worry too much about the outside world and have fun again. It was a great experience for our young players and we can’t wait for the next opportunity to get back out on the field.

The Braves opened the tournament with 5–3 come from behind victor over Fennimore Friday morning at 8 a.m. in the first game of the tournament.

Kattre was unable to coach the team Friday morning due to sick child at home. Assistant coaches Nik Werner and Matt Bockhop led the Braves to victory.

Belmont took a 1–0 lead in the bottom of the third when senior Brady Wedig drew a lead off walk against Fennimore starter Boston Flannery, moved to third on sophomore Ty Palzkill’s double and scored on freshman Konner Lancaster’s sac fly.

Fennimore tied the game in the top of the fourth when junior Druw Fifrick drew a lead off walk and came in to score on senior Will Ahnen’s RBI single to right centerfield.

The Golden Eagles (2–11, 0–3 at state) took it’s first lead of the game in the top of the fifth on a junior Warren Adam’s two-out RBI double down the left field line. Fifrick followed with an RBI single to score Adam making it 3–1.

The Braves answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning against Fennimore freshman reliever Lucas Lendosky.

Belmont freshman Kolby Lancaster led off with a double and scored when Fennimore misplayed junior Mitch Douglas’ sacrifice bunt. Douglas scored on senior Luke Kamps’ two-out RBI single to center to tie the game.

Belmont took the lead for good with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Christensen ripped a lead off single off Ahnen, who came on in relief. Wedig was then hit by a pitch. But Ahnen got Palzkill to ground into a 4–6–3 double play and Fennimore appeared like it would escape the inning unscathed, but Kolby Lancaster gapped a double to left centerfield to give the Braves a 4–3 lead. Then, after a passed ball, Tyler Simmons reached on an error to drive in a key insurance run.

Kolby Lancaster, who came on in relief of Christensen to get the final out of the fourth inning, worked around hit batsman to close out the game and earn the win. Lancaster allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in 31/3 innings and aided his own cause with a pair of hits and two RBI in the win.

Kattre’s Braves suffered a 9–6 loss to Westby Saturday morning.

Belmont scored a pair of runs in the top of the first, but the Norsemen answered back with two unearned runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning and four in the third to take a 6–2 lead.

The Braves battled back from a 9–3 deficit by scoring three runs in its final at bat to make the game interesting, but Westby recorded the final out to hold on for a 9–6 win.

2020 Babe Ruth 18U State Tournament
Belmont 5, Fennimore 3
(from Friday, Aug. 7 @ Prairie du Chien)
Fennimore 000 120  0  —  3  4  2 
Belmont 010 022 x  —  5  5  1
Leading hitters — F: Warren Adam 1x4 (RBI), Druw Fifrick 1x3 (RBI), Will Ahnen 1x3 (RBI), B: Kolby Lancaster 2x2 (2 RBI), Luke Kamps 1x3 (RBI), Riley Christensen 1x3 (RBI), Ty Palzkill 1x3. 2B ­— F: Adam, B: Ty Palzkill, Lancaster 2.
W — Kolby Lancaster (3.1IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 2BB). L — Will Ahnen (1IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, 0K, 1BB).

2020 Babe Ruth 18U State Tournament
Westby 9, Belmont 6
(from Saturday, Aug. 8 @ Prairie du Chien)
Belmont 200 001 3  —  6  5  3
Westby 204 021  x —  9  8  2 
Leading hitters — B: Justan Ernst 1x2, Riley Christensen 1x3 (2 RBI), Ty Palzkill 2x4, Kolby Lancaster 1x1, W: Dempsey 2x3 (2 RBI), Nelson 2x3 (3 RBI). 2B ­— B: Christensen, W: Dempsey 2.
W — Bergdahl (1IP, 0H, 0R, 1K, 1BB). L — Ty Palzkill (2IP, 3H, 3R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB). 

2020 Babe Ruth 18U State Tournament
Dodgeville 17, Belmont 4
(from Sunday, Aug. 9 @ Prairie du Chien)
Belmont 001 21   —    4   4  3
Dodgeville 21(12) 2x   —  17 14  4 
Leading hitters — B: Justan Ernst 2x2 (RBI), Riley Christensen 1x2 (RBI), Kolton Westemeier 1x2 (RBI), Tyler Simmons 1x2, D: Ayden Halverson 2x3 (3 RBI), Anthony Vivian 2x2 (3 RBI), Austin Montague 2x3 (RBI), Dylan Wasley 2x4 (2 RBI), Drew Latterell 2x3 (RBI), Casey Weier 2x3 (2 RBI). 3B ­— D: Vivian.
W — Sean Reilly (3.1IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 3K, 4BB). L — Riley Christensen (1IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 1K, 2BB).