Steamboat Springs American Legion Post 44 baseball team celebrates winning the B State Championship on Saturday. The team finished the season 27-5.

Courtesy photo

Steamboat Springs American Legion Post 44 baseball team celebrates winning the B State Championship on Saturday. The team finished the season 27-5.

Steamboat's American Legion teams wins state tournament

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— It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy, but the Steamboat Springs American Legion Post 44 baseball team wrapped up what coach Dave Roy said was a program first, winning the Legion B State Championship on Saturday after a emerging atop an extra-inning thriller of a championship game.

Steamboat outlasted Summit on Saturday, scoring three runs in the ninth inning to win, 12-9.

“It was totally, totally exciting,” Roy said. “I can’t even describe the sense of accomplishment I felt for the team. It still hasn’t sunk in, but being a first for Steamboat, it’s great to have.”

The tournament was the third Steamboat’s won this season. The team finished 27-5.

Steamboat actually beat Summit twice in its 3-0 weekend, and had it lost what was the final game, the teams would have squared off again in the double-elimination format. The Sailors also barely escaped in the first go-around, Billy Clark giving Steamboat a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning with a two-run double that led to the 9-8 win.

That came after Steamboat cruised by Denver East in the weekend’s opening game, a 6-3 win in which the team pounded out 13 hits and pitcher Johnny Stensvad struck out eight before Ryan Jeep came in to notch the save.

The championship game also was a back-and-forth affair. Summit opened with a massive five-run first inning, but Steamboat chipped away, adding two runs each in the second and third innings before Jeep blasted two-run home run over the scoreboard in left centerfield, giving his squad a 6-5 lead.

Summit bounced back to go up 7-6, then Steamboat answered again, taking a 9-8 lead in the top of the sixth only to see Summit knot things, 9-9, in the bottom half of the inning.

Steamboat finally put things away by scoring three runs with two outs in the top of the eighth. Thomas Kelly got on when he was hit by a pitch. Charles Fitzhugh singled, and Clark came through with a big double. Jesse Pugh was on the mound to close out Summit in the bottom half of the inning and secure, finally, the championship.

Jeep was named the tournament’s best pitcher while Pugh earned most valuable player honors.

“The kids worked hard in practice. They really focused on getting better, then our pitching staff was brought along very well by our pitching coach, Rusty McRight,” Roy said. “There was this cohesiveness, a team spirit, and we hung together when things got tough. We had a lot of talent, a lot of hard work, a lot of progress and a commitment to win, and that's what you have to have to be a champion. These guys had it.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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