Legion baseball team collects another title, prepares for state championships | SteamboatToday.com

Legion baseball team collects another title, prepares for state championships

The Steamboat Springs American Legion Post 44 baseball team was able to overcome an 8-3 loss to Summit County in the opening round to win the tournament with victories over Buena Vista

— After picking up tournament titles in Rangely and Buena Vista, the members of the Steamboat Springs American Legion Post 44 baseball team seem primed for a run at the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Summit County.

"It was a really, really great weekend of baseball," coach Dave Roy said about the tournament in Buena Vista.

The Steamboat team was able to overcome an 8-3 loss to Summit County in the opening round to win the tournament with victories over Buena Vista, Glenwood Springs and Summit County.

Summit County ended Steamboat's six-game winning streak in the opening round, but the local boys beat that team two out of three times last weekend en route to the tournament title. It was the team's second straight tournament title after winning another tournament in Rangely two weeks ago.

"I feel like we are in pretty good shape headed into state," Roy said.

Steamboat is scheduled to open the Senior B Small School State Championship on Thursday in Breckenridge. Steamboat will face Liberty at 11 a.m. in the opening round of the event, which will continue through Sunday.

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Roy is hoping for a repeat of the team's performance last weekend, where solid pitching, strong defense and timely hitting helped the team pick up four straight wins after the disappointing loss in the opener, when Steamboat team committed five errors and stranded 11 base runners in the loss to Summit — mistakes the team hasn't made a lot of this season.

Roy said the Steamboat team was able to get back on track in the team's second game against host Buena Vista and showed steady improvement through the weekend.

"It's was totally different," the coach said about Steamboat's performance in the second game. "After the opening game, they played the way I expected them to play all the time,"

Steamboat was able to rally from a 3-0 deficit against Buena Vista to tie the game in the third inning. John Stensvad fueled Steamboat's comeback with back-to-back home runs that resulted in three runs. Steamboat also got hits from Jesse Pugh and Ryan Jeep in the 9-5 victory. Steamboat pitcher Billy Clark got the victory going four innings and giving up one hit and no runs.

Steamboat then advanced to face Glenwood Springs in a pivotal game.

Steamboat held a 7-1 lead through three innings before Glenwood Springs scored six runs to tie the game with a fourth-inning rally. The Demons pulled away to a 10-7 lead and were within a half-inning of handing Steamboat its second loss of the weekend before the momentum switched.

"There is no question that we had our backs against the wall," Roy said. "We were out of time, and we were down to our last three outs."

The game was only in the fifth inning, but when the Sailors stepped to the plate in the top half, the game clock was at its limit. This would be the local team's last at bat in the game.

A pair of singles and a double combined with a couple of walks and a hit helped Steamboat tie the game and set the stage for the comeback. There were two outs, and Steamboat led by a run when Steamboat's Billy Clark hit a grand slam with two outs for insurance. Steamboat took a 15-10 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Glenwood scored one run in the bottom of the inning but lost the game, 15-11.

The win set up a rematch with Summit County in the semifinals Sunday. Steamboat won that game, 7-3. Summit topped Glenwood to earn one more shot at Steamboat in the finals. Steamboat won that game, 4-1, to earned another tournament title.

Steamboat had four players named to the all-tournament team including Stensvad, who hit four home runs in the tournament. Ryan Jeep, Jesse Pugh and Thomas Kelly also were recognized.

"I think our showing this week will give these kids a tremendous amount of confidence headed into the state finales," Roy said.

The top three teams from the mountain league and five teams from the Front Range will compete in the tournament that will take place in Breckenridge and Frisco at the end of the week.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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