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By J. Levi Burnfin
Courier Sports 

Reds On Roll

 

J. Levi Burnfin / The Courier

Walt Dalbey delivers a pitch during Tuesday’s nightcap with the Miles City Mavericks. The Reds won both games of the double-header.

The slugging Reds continued their offensive outpour for a perfect 7-0 record on the week.

Coming into the Aaron’s Tournament in Billings on Saturday and Sunday, the Reds were averaging nearly 10 runs per game, racking up 51 extra-base hits in only 15 games. Those trends continued in Billings, even if not immediately.

The Reds began the tournament on Saturday night with a 4-2 win over the Billings Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays struck first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first, capitalizing on the Reds’ sloppy play, according to Head Coach Jack Sprague. But the Reds’ bats exploded for four runs in the top of the second, catapulted by Wacy Ortman’s lead off blast to left field.

They were held in check for the rest of the game but starter Jon “Cutter” Kolstad shut down the Jays for the rest of his five innings for his second win of the season and Johnathon Koessl came in to shut the door in the seventh for the save, his first.

Kolstad finished his six innings of work with four strikeouts, three walks, two runs, one earned and allowing four hits.

The Reds’ bats blew open the next game early, however, as they defeated the Great Falls Electrics 9-0. Glasgow scored three times in the bottom of the first, including back-to-back run-scoring doubles from Ortman and Andy Gardner. The offense scored six more throughout the game but one run was all the offense starter Jason Thibault would need as he tossed a complete-game shut out, striking out seven, only walking one and allowing three hits, all singles. The win raised Thibault’s record to 2-1.

In the night cap on Sunday, the Reds used an eight-run sixth inning to cruise to the 13-6 victory over the Billings Cardinals. The Reds tallied five walks, three hits and a hit batsman during the big inning.

Starter Grant Legare kept the Cards quiet, only allowing two unearned runs through five innings. However, four-straight errors in the bottom of the sixth allowed the Cardinals to score four more unearned runs. Legare ended the complete game only allowing three hits, no earned, one strikeout and the win, increasing his record to 2-0.

On Tuesday, the Reds were finally able to play on their home field – after having two games postponed last Tuesday due to rain – sweeping Miles City in a pair of games. In both games, Walt Dalbey was outstanding. He threw two complete games and earned two wins for the Reds. He only threw 61 pitches in the first game, allowing him to come back to start in the second game, where he was even more efficient, throwing only 41 pitches – 32 strikes – for the five-inning win. The Reds won 11-0 in the first game and 15-1 in the second game.

In the two games, Dalbey combined for nine strike outs, allowing only one earned run.

With those two wins, the three wins in Billings, and with two wins over Sidney on June 12, the Reds are on a streak of 12 straight victories, their best streak of the season. But Sprague is focused on continuing to improve, instead of the wins and losses.

“It doesn’t matter if we win every single game if we’re not getting better,” he said. “If we’re not going to get better, than sure, we get wins, we get accolades but really, what does it do for you as a player?”

Sprague noted that the way they’ve been able to out-slug teams may be covering up for some mistakes in base running and on defense.

“The mistakes we’re making right now, if we’re playing a top-notch team, we’re going to have trouble. We’ve been fortunate, we’ve been able to out-hit teams. They simply can’t keep up with us and that’s not normal,” he said.

The Reds haven’t only been hitting, though. They have been shutting the opposing teams’ offense down with outstanding pitching, as well.

Going into the Billings tournament, the Reds had accumulated a 2.67 staff ERA with 73 strikeouts in 89 innings pitched.

“We’re happy with where we’re at,” said Sprague. “This [weekend] is kind of a benchmark for us. This weekend is where we really turned the corner last year,” said Sprague.

The Reds are heading to Lewistown this weekend for several games. When the Reds went to Lewistown for a tournament last year, which Sprague was referring to, Glasgow went 1-3, but all three games were one-run losses that could have gone either way.

“It was like, ‘hello, these [small mistakes] really matter.’ You lose by one run and you make two base running mistakes, you probably win by three [without those],” said Sprague. “[After the weekend], the first third of our season is done. We should have a pretty good idea what we’re going to be going forward.”

On Monday, the Reds B-team traveled to Williston for four games in one day. They split a pair with both the Willistons 15’s and the Williston legion team.

Jake Page and Kevin Schindler both earned wins and Kasey Siefert earned a save. Chase Fossum and Schindler were hung with a loss in the two games the Reds dropped.

 

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