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Babe Ruth season closes

By Staff | Jul 18, 2014

Rugby’s Anders Johnson slides safely into third base ahead of Cando’s Keaton Nelson’s tag in Rugby’s 8-5 win on Monday in Belcourt.

BELCOURT – The Rugby Babe Ruth baseball team made fond memories with a lively dugout during a 6-5 campaign, which ended Tuesday at the Turtle Mountain League Tournament at Turtle Mountain Community High School.

Rugby fell 11-5 in a losers-out game against Bottineau, but the team avoided elimination the night before with an 8-5 win over Cando.

Third-year player Kyle Ebach led the team with three RBIs in the win and was the catalyst early with an RBI single with two outs in the first to give Rugby a 2-1 lead. He connected again in the third with a two-RBI single for a 4-2 lead. His second big hit of the evening had coaches from other teams in the tournament commenting on how Ebach seems to always make solid contact.

“He just seems to be ready,” Rugby coach Mitch Grochow said. “He wants to put the ball in play. He doesn’t need to take the hardest swings. We calculated before the tournament and he was batting over .500 and I think he’s had at least one hit every game.”

Grochow said Ebach was the only player on the team to accomplish the feat though he was unable to collect a hit in the team’s finale. (Rugby dropped its first game of the tournament 12-9 to Belcourt-Dunseith.)

Rugby’s Kyle Ebach makes a stop at second base in his team’s 11-5 loss to Bottineau on Tuesday.

“It’s been three years now playing Babe Ruth,” Ebach said. “No one’s really older than you, so it’s the same level of talent.”

Ebach joked that his team’s growing tradition of calling out the batter’s mother’s name (i.e. “Do it for Paula) was effective.

“It doesn’t hurt,” he said. “Obviously, it was starting to work.”

Cando rallied and tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the sixth inning, but Rugby tacked on three more runs in the bottom half.

Shayden Luna (Towner) connected on an RBI single to score Dillion Fly. Landen Foster scored seconds later from third base following a wild pitch. Anders Johnson’s sacrifice fly brought in Luna for the final run.

“We seemed to be ready to answer,” Grochow said. “I just wish we got a few more runs and didn’t let them answer back.”

Luna pitched the seventh inning and stranded three in relief of Johnson, who scattered Cando’s five runs through six innings.

“(Johnson’s) pretty good usually at trying to keep it around the plate and makes them put it in play,” Grochow said. “He always seems to settle down and throw strikes after giving up a run.”

Luna led Rugby at the plate, finishing 3 for 4 with a double and he reached on an error and scored three runs.

BOTTINEAU ENDS RUGBY

Rugby’s season came to a lackluster end as Bottineau scored in every inning, but one and Rugby failed to find timely hits. Rugby stranded 12 runners and committed seven errors.

Bottineau opened a 7-3 lead with a three-run fourth inning, which included RBI singles from Wolfdon Thorson and Jackson Johnson.

Rugby left a pair of runners in scoring position on three occasions and a promising sixth inning saw three players stranded.

“That was our achilles heel,” Grochow said. “We just couldn’t get guys in from second or third and that was the whole game.”

Cole Bethke (Towner) led Rugby at the plate, batting 4 for 4 with a double and a pair of RBIs.

“We progressed quite a ways through the season,” Grochow said. “I think the first two games (of the tournament) we had over 20 hits, which is pretty good for seven-inning games.”

Said Luna: “Over the season, we grew as a team, learned how to hit better and field better and play as a team.”

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