The Reds finally lost.
After 17 straight victories, the Glasgow Reds fell 11-3 to the Calgary PBF Redbirds during the Harold Gjerde Memorial Tournament in Lewistown this weekend. The loss dropped the Reds to the third-place game at the tournament, which they eventually won 9-5 over Great Falls. But to Manager Jack Sprague, the loss could be a good thing for the Reds.
“It was good to see a team that made you pay for mistakes. When we made mistakes, they made you pay.” said Sprague. “So we have to understand, we can’t make those mistakes. We have been able to get away with that.
“We’ve just been more athletic, putting the ball in play so we kind of overcome those mistakes, but we played a team that we had to actually play. We were playing right with them in the beginning but those mistakes added up.”
The Reds actually scored first against the Redbirds in the third official game of the tournament. Grant Legare reached on an error by the Redbirds shortstop to lead off the game, moved to second on Walt Dalbey’s sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on Keil Krumwiede’s single and then scored on a passed ball to put the Reds up 1-0 in the top of the first. The Redbirds tied it at one in the bottom of the inning but the Reds pulled ahead again 2-1 on Cutter Kolstad’s walk and then scoring on a series of passed balls.
But that’s where the Reds’ mistakes started to help the Redbirds. Two passed balls helped the Redbirds tie it at two in the third. Then three walks, two hit by pitch, one passed ball and a wild pitch led to a six-run inning in the fourth for Calgary, giving them an 8-2 lead they would not relinquish.
“It’s like, ‘yeah, okay. That’s what it looks like,’” said Sprague. “That’s what we’ve been doing to everybody else. It was a good team to see.”
Sprague also noted that it was good for his lineup to face that quality of pitcher, as well. Calgary’s starter, Brodie Stairs, seemed to get better and better as the game wore on, according to Sprague.
“He started throwing really hard. He was probably mid-80s, 83 to 86. Good slider. Good change up. He mixed pitches, threw strikes. I mean a real pitcher,” said Sprague. “It was good because we need to see it. I was disappointed that we didn’t adjust quicker but wasn’t really surprised. We haven’t seen that kind of pitching on a daily basis.”
Stairs earned the win, tossing six innings, striking out eight and only allowing one earned run. Andy Gardner, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, took the loss for the Reds, only lasting 3.2 innings.
The Reds bounced back quickly, though, facing familiar foe Great Falls Electrics for the second time during the weekend and third time in the season.
Starter Dalbey got the Reds back on track, throwing a seven-inning complete game, allowing three earned, walking none and striking out five on the way to a 9-5 victory and third place in Lewistown. The win brought Dalbey’s record to 5-1 on the season. Griffin Bengochea’s 3-for-4, two RBI day at the plate provided the offensive support.
The Reds reached that third-place game despite their loss to Calgary by winning two games earlier in the tournament, first blowing out the short-handed Billings Blue Jays 15-0 and then defeating the Gallatin Valley Outlaws 9-2. Gallatin Valley and Glasgow have some history, splitting a pair of games last year, where the Reds got the final laugh with a victory in the state tournament.
Jason Thibault was spectacular in the game against the Blue Jays, striking out 11 batters in only six innings for the complete-game shutout, bringing his season record to 3-1. Tom Leland brought in two RBIs on 2-for-4 at the plate with a double in the game.
Against the Outlaws, Legare picked up the win, also throwing a complete game, striking out three and only allowing two earned. Leland again had the best day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with one run, three RBIs and a double.
Before the tournament began, the Reds also played Great Falls in an exhibition game, winning 11-5. Kolstad got the start, lasting five innings, striking out two and allowing three earned. Leland came out of the pen for two innings in relief, allowing no runs.The Reds ran out 16 different players in the exhibition.
Earlier in the week, the Reds had a four-game set with Miles City, two in Glasgow on Tuesday, June 18, and two in Miles City on Wednesday, June 19. The Reds won 11-0 and 15-1 on Tuesday and then swept the Mavericks on Wednesday, winning both games by the same final, 13-2. Johnathon Koessl got the win in the first game, tossing a five-inning complete game, and Krumwiede was the winning pitcher in the night cap, tossing five innings before being relieved by Leland for two innings.
The four wins against Miles City brought the Reds’ conference record to 11-3, two games ahead of the 8-4 Blue Jays.
“We got our four conference wins, which was the goal for the week,” said Sprague.
After the tournament in Lewistown, the Reds’ overall record sits at 23-4 and 18-1 since June 7.
“As a team as whole, we’re probably about a week ahead of schedule,” said Sprague. “Our pitching is doing an outstanding job. But we still have to get better.
“Now we have a few days off, we’re going to try to clean some stuff up,” he continued.
The Reds had their first three-straight days off – Monday through Wednesday – since the beginning of the season, then travel to Miles City for a four-day tournament that is scheduled to end Sunday. They will also head back to Lewistown for a pair of conference games on July 2 and two more conference games in Laurel on July 3.