After fighting off a late surge from the Bitterroot Red Sox, the Glacier Twins are state champions.
The Twins took down the Sox 8-6 in the title game of the Montana-Alberta Class A State American Legion baseball tournament in Miles City on Sunday.
This week they’ll head to Lewiston, Idaho, to play for the regional championship.
Head coach Scott Murray said the tournament was anything but a cakewalk for his team, which extended its win streak to 22 games.
“Nothing was easy. It was like we breezed through district, but these were all close games,” he said of the tournament.
The Twins got the scoring going early against the Red Sox in the championship matchup, scoring two runs in the opening inning off a big RBI triple from Coby Clark-Dickenson.
Glacier added six more runs in the fourth inning, thanks to singles by Tom Hellwig and Terek Bistodeau, who was named Class A state batting champion.
Bistodeau went 2 for 3 at the plate with three RBIs.
Both teams had six hits.
An eight-run lead seemed a safe margin for the Twins, but the Sox exploded for six runs of their own in the sixth inning to make things a game.
However, the Twins extinguished that run in the final frame to take the title.
Murray said it was hard to watch his team’s momentum slow down and let the Sox back in it.
“We got going at the start. We hit off their first guy really well, and then we started struggling a little bit,” Murray said. “We just sputtered there, it’s kind of frustrating as a coach. Against the Red Sox, you can’t let them hang around.”
Zach Veneman started the game on the mound for the Twins, allowing six hits and six runs in his six innings. He fanned three batters.
Ryan Veneman sealed the game in the seventh inning with his relief pitching, coming in with the bases loaded and one out but shutting the Sox down.
Veneman won Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
Murray said he’s continually impressed by Veneman’s composure on the mound.
“That kid is just made of iron,” he said. “He saved it the night before when we were in trouble, and then came in with one out and bases loaded. It was like, ‘Just give me the ball coach.’”
The Twins opened up the tournament with an 8-3 beat-down of the Tri-County Cardinals.
Clark-Dickenson, Bistodeau and Forrest Kobelt all went 2 for 4 at the plate in that game.
Glacier got a tough test prior to the championship game as well, taking down the Gallatin Valley Outlaws 5-3 in extra innings Thursday.
The Outlaws got hot in the bottom of the sixth inning to bring the game to two runs apiece, after both teams went scoreless through the first four innings.
Glacier notched three runs in the eighth inning and the Outlaws could only respond with one.
Clark-Dickenson got the win on the mound for Glacier, allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks but striking out five in seven innings.
The Twins also took down Laurel and the Red Sox en route to the title game.
The Twins will start tournament play on Friday in Idaho.
Moving forward, Murray said the plan is just to let his team’s momentum keep carrying them through the end of the postseason.
“They always think they can win, and they always do, so far. We’re mentally tough,” he said. “With that attitude they have, where they’re never behind and never out of a game, the coaching now is through. They know what to do, we know the changes we need to make, but basically it’s their ballgame.”
Glacier Twins 140 011 1 — 8 11 1
Tri-County 000 100 2 — 3 5 4
WP—Zach Veneman; LP—Judisch.
GLACIER TWINS — Caleb Meehan 1-3, Ryan Veneman 2-5, Coby Clark-Dickenson 2-4, Terek Bistodeau 2-4, Jack Schwaiger 0-2, Matt Morrison 0-4, Forrest Kobelt 2-4, Dan Seymour 2-3, Quintin Schriver 0-3.
2B—Meehan, Kobelt (2), R. Veneman, Clark-Dickenson; 3B—Seymour; RBIs—Meehan, Clark-Dickenson (4), Bistodeau, Kobelt; Kellehes, Kovatch.
Glacier Twins 000 020 03 — 5 7 2
Gallatin Valley 000 002 01 — 3 8 3
WP—Coby Clark-Dickenson; LP—Jones.
GLACIER TWINS — Caleb Meehan 0-3, Matt Morrison 0-1, Ryan Veneman 1-3, Clark-Dickenson 0-4, Terek Bistodeau 2-4, Jack Schwaiger 1-3, Tom Hellwig 1-2, Forrest Kobelt 1-4, Dan Seymour 1-3, Quintin Schriver 0-1.
2B—Kobelt, Veneman, Bistodeau; Defrance; RBIs—Veneman, Hellwig, Kobelt; Murphy, Jones.
Glacier 200 600 0 — 86 4
Bitterroot 000 006 0 — 66 3
Glacier: Ryan Veneman 1-4, Thomas Hellwig 1-3, Coby Clark-Dickenson 1-4, Terek Bistodeau 2-3, Jack Schwaiger 0-2, Matthew Morrison 0-4, Daniel Seymour 1-4, Quintin Schriver 0-2, Caleb Meehan 0-2. 3B — Clark-Dickenson. RBI — Hellwig, Bistodeau 3, Clark-Dickenson 2, Schwaiger.