Fourth of July holiday weekend American Legion baseball action begins today in Whitefish with five teams competing in the 34th annual Sapa-Johnsrud Memorial Tournament at Memorial Field.
On Friday, the annual John R. Harp Memorial Tournament gets under way at Griffin Field in Kalispell for another five teams.
Both events end Sunday.
Normally the Sapa-Johnsrud has more teams competing from Washington, but a Wood Bat tournament in Spokane, also this weekend, kept several of them from attending.
This will also be the final regular-season tournament before postseason action for the Kalispell Lakers AA, A teams and Glacier Twins A.
The Glacier Twins (15-12 overall, 5-3 league play) will be the lone A squad in its Sapa-Johnsrud, which will include AA teams from Kalispell, Butte, Lethbridge and Pullman, Washington (Palouse).
The Twins were also the lone A team last week at the Keith Sell Tournament in Helena, where it went 3-2.
“We were really happy with that,” Twins coach Scott Murray said.
“We had one bad outing. We threw six pitchers, had 14 walks and wondered where did that come.”
That was against the Great Falls Chargers.
“It was our only hiccup,” he said.
“We played a great game against Helena.”
Glacier beat Helena 3-2, but lost to Great Falls 12-4.
The Twins pitching staff has received a shot in the arm with the return of veteran Coby Clark-Dickenson. He has been nursing a sore elbow, which prevented him from throwing.
He will join Nathan Hader on the mound, who has chalked up some impressive wins.
“It is starting to come together,” Murray said.
“We have a great bunch of guys, a close-knit group. I’m liking where we are in that regard. We just need to solidify our pitching. It falls off after (Clark-Dickenson and Hader).”
Murray said “hitting has been good. Five to six hits a game is enough to score with and keep you in it if your pitching is solid.”
He said the Twins are batting over .330 as a team. Clark-Dickenson is hitting a team best .448.
Jack Schwaiger is hitting .364 and Terek Bistodeau .362.
“This weekend we will see some solid pitching,” Murray said.
“It will be a good thing. We have taken a few lumps here and there (against AA competition) to make us better.”
Each team will play four games in the tournament. The two teams with the best marks will be in Sunday’s championship game at noon.
The Twins play twice today, 5:30 p.m. versus Palouse Patriots and 8 p.m. versus Lethbridge Elks.
Lakers AA have one test today, the tournament opener at 12:30 p.m. versus Lethbridge.
Kalispell is coming off a strong showing at the Palouse Summer Series in Pullman, Washington. In games reported, the Lakers AA were 4-0 and fell one run short of moving on to the championship round last week. That snapped a six-game skid.
Prior to that, the Lakers AA (23-12) were on a 10-game winning streak.
Kalispell dropped a doubleheader in Lethbridge last month to the Elks, 15-4 and 6-5.
The Lakers A will play once Friday — 7:30 p.m. versus Vauxhaull Spurs — and Sunday and twice on Saturday in its Harp Tournament.
There is no championship game. The tournament winner will be determined by a tie-breaker, starting with best record.
34th annual Sapa-Johnsrud
12:30 p.m. — Kalispell Lakers AA vs. Lethbridge Elks AA
3 p.m. — Butte Miners AA vs. Palouse Patriots AA
5:30 p.m. — Glacier Twins A vs. Palouse Patriots AA
8 p.m. — Glacier Twins A vs. Lethbridge Elks AA
2 p.m. — Lethbridge Elks AA vs. Butte Miners AA
4:30 p.m. — Kalispell Lakers AA vs. Palouse Patriots AA
7 p.m. — Kalispell Lakers AA vs. Glacier Twins A
2 p.m. — Butte Miners AA vs. Kalispell Lakers AA
4:30 p.m. — Lethbridge Elks AA vs. Palouse Patriots AA
7 p.m. — Glacier Twins A vs. Butte Miners AA
12 p.m. — Seed 1 vs. Seed 2
John R. Harp Tournament
5 p.m. — Mission Valley Mariners A vs. Fort Macleod Royals A
7:30 p.m. — Kalispell Lakers A vs. Vauxhaull Spurs A
10 a.m. — Mission Valley Mariners A vs. Medicine Hat Knights A
12:30 p.m. — Vauxhaull Spurs A vs. Fort Macleod Royals A
3 p.m. — Kalispell Lakers A vs. Mission Valley Mariners A
5:30 p.m. — Medicine Hat Knights A vs. Vauxhaull Spurs A
8 p.m. — Kalispell Lakers A vs. Fort Macleod Royals A
10 a.m. — Medicine Hat Knights A vs. Fort Macleod Royals A
12:30 p.m. — Vauxhaull Spurs A vs. Mission Valley Mariners A
3 p.m. — Medicine Hat Knights A vs. Kalispell Lakers A