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Bellevue comes on strong to top Billings

For much of Sunday's semifinal in the American Legion AAA Northwest Regional baseball tournament, Billings Scarlets pitcher Anthony Kuntz seemed nearly untouchable from the mound.

Fortunately for Lakeside Recovery of Bellevue, Wash., pitcher Peyton Harrod matched Kuntz pitch for pitch at Harry & David Field.

It wasn't until the top of the seventh inning when Devin O'Donnell finally backed Harrod with the run support he needed that Bellevue was able to secure a spot in today's American Legion AAA Northwest Regional championship.

O'Donnell's two-run double began a three-run frame for Bellevue, which captured a 4-2 triumph over Billings on the fourth day of play here in Medford.

The Washington champions now must turn their attentions toward the stingy Medford Mustangs, who are allowing less than one run per contest in the tournament.

"We've gotta try to score some runs," said Bellevue coach Rob Reese on today's matchup. "They haven't scored a whole lot so hopefully we get an early lead and take the crowd out of it. That's our main goal, and then to try and keep it close. They're definitely loaded."

Because Bellevue (36-13) lost to Charter Cove of Covina, Calif., in the opener of the double-elimination event, it will have to beat the undefeated Mustangs twice today. The first game is at 4 p.m. and, if necessary, Game 2 will be played around 7.

On Sunday, Reese signaled for bunts and hit-and-runs, but runners weren't reaching third base the way he would have liked.

Down 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning, after Colin Hering was hit by a pitch and Ryan Somers walked, Reese ordered a double steal and it couldn't have worked better.

On the next play, O'Donnell doubled down the right-field line and gave Bellevue a 3-2 advantage, its first lead of the game. Andrew West later plated O'Donnell with a single to bolster the lead to 4-2.

"That was a big inning," said Reese. "We were losing by one run for most of the game. Once we got the lead, obviously, we put some pressure on the other team."

But Bellevue was by no means out of it yet.

Reliever Matt Houser spelled Harrod in the ninth inning to finish the game, but Houser walked the first two batters. Reese brought in strikeout-machine Cole Wiper to get Bellevue out of the jam with the tying run aboard.

Wiper allowed a walk to load the bases, but got the final two outs on swinging third strikes to save Bellevue's championship hopes.

"It was huge," said Reese about Wiper's save. "He's done that in the past and he's only a sophomore. He's had a few games like that. He's a strikeout type of guy so when we need a strikeout we call on him."

Billings (47-16) put a first inning run on the board with Justin Black's RBI single after Bellevue's Mario Sanelli committed a two-out throwing error to keep the inning going for the Montana team.

Bellevue knotted the score in the top of the fifth when Victor King's groundout to second base plated Somers.

Black gave Billings the lead once again with a run-scoring triple in the bottom of the frame.

Harrod allowed two runs — only one earned — on seven hits, two walks and struck out six in eight innings.

After an exceptional start, Kuntz wound up surrendering four earned runs on six hits and a pair of walks.

O'Donnell went 3-for-4 and Somers was 2-for-3 and scored twice. West added a 2-for-5 effort.

Black went 3-for-5 to lead Billings.

washington montana

ab r h bi ab r h bi

West cf 5 0 2 0 McDnld lf 4 0 0 0

Sanelli ss 4 0 0 0 Gilmore ss 3 1 1 0

Penberthy rf 4 0 0 0 Black cf 5 1 3 1

Sutherland c 4 0 0 0 Roberts 1b 4 0 1 1

Sadeh 1b 4 0 1 0 Muller rf 4 0 0 0

Hering lf 3 1 0 0 Moller c 4 0 0 0

O'Donnell 3b 4 1 3 2 Miron 3b 4 0 1 0

King dh 2 0 0 1 Schrtnbr dh 3 0 1 0

Harrod p 0 0 0 0 Dukart 2b 3 0 0 0

Houser p 0 0 0 0 Kuntz p 0 0 0 0

Wiper p 0 0 0 0 Schopp p 0 0 0 0

Totals 33 4 8 4 Totals 34 2 7 2

Washington 000 010 300 —4

Montana 100 010 000 —2

E—Sanelli, Zadeh, Somers 2, Muller. DP—Washington 1. LOB—Washington 9, Montana 12. 2B—O'Donnell, Black. 3B—Black. HBP—Hering, Muller. SH—King, Gilmore. SB—Hering, Somers. CS—Somers.

IP H R ER BB SO

Washington

Harrod W 8 7 2 1 2 6

Houser 0 1 0 0 2 0

Wiper S 1 0 0 0 1 2

Montana

Kuntz L 6 6 4 4 2 1

Schopp 3 2 0 0 3 2

WP—Kuntz 2, Schopp. PB—Sutherland. Umpires—Home, Scott Rice First, Jon Harris Second, John Black Third, Mik Hendrickson. T—2:27. A—300