Dominant might be an understatement for what Sam Elliott accomplished on the mound Saturday evening for the Kalispell Lakers at Griffin Field.
In the final game on opening day of the AA Montana-Alberta American Legion baseball tournament, Elliott struck out seven and did not issue a walk in going the distance for a 4-2 Kalispell Lakers victory over the Helena Senators.
Of his 98 pitches, 75 were strikes.
“I can’t say enough about Sam,” Lakers coach Ryan Malmin said. “His composure, his competitiveness and his performance was outstanding.”
Helena managed eight hits, Colin Sassano, Taylor Carlson and Ty McGurran had two each.
“Sam missed some spots early on, but just kept pounding the zone and felt good,” Malmin said. “He was confident. It was fun to see that kind of outing for Sam in his last official start (at Griffin Field) in front of the crowd we had tonight.”
The second-seed Lakers had six hits. Leadoff hitter Randy Stultz went 2 for 4 and Eric Seaman was 2 for 3. Stultz singled in a runner in the sixth inning to complete the scoring.
“That was a key hit,” Malmin said. “To have a two-run lead going into the seventh was critical.”
The Lakers (38-14) move on to face the Billings Royals tonight at 7. The Royals were 6-5 winners over the Lethbridge Elks on Saturday.
“What we have done the second half of season is pitch well, play good defense and score enough runs to win.” Malmin said.
“The great thing about hosting state is that the great fan base we have made for a great atmosphere tonight,” he added.
“We saw a lot of former Laker alum at the game. That was special to see.”
The state tournament runs through Wednesday.
Helena Senators 010 100 0 — 2 8 1
Kalispell Lakers 201 001 x — 4 6 1
WP—Sam Elliott; LP—Brett Jacobs.
HELENA SENATORS — Conor McCarvel 1-4, Zach Spiroff 0-4, Colin Sassano 2-4, Andrew Rosston 0-3, Taylor Carlson 2-3, Ty McGurran 2-3, Riley Chisholm 0-2, Seth Barrett 0-1, Matt Kreiger 1-3, Kadyn Craigle 0-2, Cy Miller 0-0, Jacob Howell 0-1.
KALISPELL LAKERS — Randy Stultz 2-4, Taylor Morton 0-4, Eric Seaman 2-3, Dawson Smith 0-2, AJ Jones 0-2, Ryan Symmes 1-1, Logan Siblerud 1-2, Johan Freudenburg 0-1, Brandon Jordan 0-1.
2B—McGurran (2); Seaman; RBIs—McGurran, Kreiger; Stultz, Symmes, Siblerud.
Great Falls Chargers 6, Bozeman Bucks 5
The eighth-seeded Chargers opened the tournament by knocking off the top-seeded Bucks.
Matthew Houlihan, 6 1/3 innings, was the winning pitcher and also stood out at the plate by going 3 for 4, which included a home run, and drove in two runs. He struck out 10.
Michael Freund had a home run for Bozeman. Koby Scala had two hits and two RBIs.
Billings Scarlets 10,
Missoula Mavericks 2
The Scarlets took command with a four-run first inning and never looked back.
Dylan Johnson and Christian Michaelson had two hits each and combined to drive in five runs for Billings. Andy Larsen had two hits, including a home run.
Parker Stevens had two hits. Stevens and Brendan Buchanan both drove in a run for the Mavericks.
Billings Royals 6,
Lethbridge Elks 5
The Royals pulled through by scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning
Brooks Zimmer had the game-winning RBI.
Levi Abbot left the mound in the sixth with the Elks on top by three runs.
AA Tournament Schedule
4 p.m. — Great Falls vs. Billings Scarlets
7 p.m. — Kalispell vs. Billings Royals
10 a.m. — Helena vs. Lethbridge
1 p.m. — Missoula vs. Bozeman
Other first-round game summaries courtesy of Cliff Kirkpatrick at 406mtsports.com