Rockies rally to defeat Cougars in extra innings
BONNER — Another tournament for the Mission Valley Rockies meant another thrilling victory over the Clark Fork Valley Cougars.
At the Montana Senior Babe Ruth Championship at Kelly Pine Field in Bonner Saturday, Rockies second baseman Nick Grogan scored on a one-out single by Devin Kamarainen in the eighth inning to give the Rockies a 10-9 win and a spot in the semifinal game against Helena to see who would play the Missoula Pioneers in the championship game.
It was the third time in the last four games against the Cougars that the Rockies had to rally in the late innings for a come-from-behind win.
“Oh, boy, they’re about to give me a heart attack, every time,” Mission Valley manager Alan Anderson said just minutes after Grogan scored the game-clinching run. “We always seem to play each other tough. I don’t know what it is about them...I’m just happy we were able to pull it out finally.”
Kamarainen finished 3 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs, which included a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, which tied the game at nine and came right after the Cougars scored five runs in the top half of the inning.
Jeremiah Crawford, who also pitched two perfect innings of relief in a 6-4 loss to Helena earlier Saturday, gave the Rockies five solid inning before being relieved by Eneas Inmee in the sixth. The first five batters Inmee faced got on and five runs crossed the plate before Inmee was relieved by Jame Petersen with two outs in the inning. Petersen struck out Banks Stocking to get out of the inning without any further damage. Petersen didn’t give up a run in 2 1/3 innings to pick up the win. Only one Cougar hitter reached base against Petersen and he was caught attempting to steal second.
“I don’t know what I would have done without him (Petersen). We were running out of pitchers,” Anderson said.
Grogan led off the eighth with a single and stole second and third before Kamarainen’s single drove him in.
“I told him (Grogan) beforehand that I wanted him to steal. If he got to first I wanted him to steal second. Coming to third was actually his idea and it worked out pretty good,” Anderson said.
Inmee, who had his defense commit two errors behind him, went 2 for 4 with a three-run homer in the fourth.
The Rockies couldn’t recover from one bad inning against Helena in the semifinals and lost 13-8 to finish third out of the four Senior Babe Ruth teams in the state.
The Rockies entered the sixth inning with a 6-5 lead, but gave up five runs to surrender the lead. The Helena rally was helped by three Rockies errors and a couple of walks. Throughout the 27-game season, the Rockies regularly suffered from one bad inning, where errors seemed to compound on each other.
“It’s been that way all year. If we could just get over that hump we’ll be all right,” Anderson said.
Half of the Rockies runs came in the fourth. The four-run rally to give the Rockies the short-lived 6-5 lead was highlighted by a RBI double by Nick Grogan and a three-run double by Petersen, who went 4 for 4.
Riley Grogan took the loss for the Rockies. Grogan struck out four, allowed six hits and eight runs in eight innings.
With the loss, the Rockies finish the season 11-16 – a big improvement from last year’s 5-23 record. Only Petersen and Kamarainen won’t return to the Rockies for the team’s third season.
“Overall, we have a decent core returning. Hopefully the guys can step up and take the reins and keep this thing moving forward,” Anderson said.
The Rockies opened the tournament with a 6-4 loss to Helena. The game was a seesaw battle until the teams went to their bullpens. Crawford relieved Kamarainen in the fifth and retired the side in order in both innings he pitched, striking out four of the six batters he faced.
Unfortunately for Crawford, he entered the game while the Rockies were trailing and the Rockies didn’t have an answer for Helena reliever Louis Lopez and his 85 mph fastball and nasty curveball. Lopez struck out eight of the 10 Rockies hitters he faced. Inmee, who grounded out to the shortstop, was the only Mission Valley player to make contact against Lopez.
Justin Hoel went 1 for 3 for the Rockies and had a two-out, two-run double in the top of the third to cut Helena’s lead to 4-3. The Rockies tied the game the next inning, when Petersen drove in Nick Grogan, who led off the inning with a single.
Helena scored two runs the next inning and that was more than enough for Lopez.
Helena 6, Mission Valley 4
Mission V. 1 0 2 1 0 0 0–4 9 1
Helena 0 4 0 2 0 0 x–6 7 4
Mission V. 10, Clark Fork V. 9
Clark Fork 2 0 1 0 1 5 0 0–9 14 3
Mission V. 2 2 0 3 1 1 0 1–10 11 4
Helena 13, Mission Valley 8
Helena 0 2 3 0 0 5 3–13 1 3
Mission V. 0 0 1 4 1 2 0–8 17 6