Bucks rough up Roughriders in regular-season finaleBOZEMAN, Mont. — The Bozeman Bucks have been making life pretty tough on Billings (Mont.) natives these days.
By: Will C. Holden, Bozeman Daily-Chronicle
BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Bozeman Bucks have been making life pretty tough on Billings (Mont.) natives these days.
After a two-week stretch culminated by a two-game sweep of Miles City (Mont.) Sunday, the Bucks leapfrogged the Billings Royals and Billings Scarlets to win the Eastern AA Conference. On Tuesday, the Bucks tattooed the Dickinson Roughriders 16-5.
Where’s the Billings connection in Dickinson? Andy Emard — a Royals alum and a former Scarlet coach — is the Roughriders’ head coach.
“Mitch Messer does a great job,” Emard said of Bozeman’s head coach. “His team is always going to be fundamentally sound and they’re always going to play hard. They just outplayed us tonight and it sounds like they’ve been outplaying a lot of teams recently.”
Even after suffering through a bit of a storm the past two weeks — going from worried about his team’s chances at making the state tournament after a four-game losing streak earlier this month to exhilarated when the Bucks finished at the top of the conference this past weekend — Messer said his team never lost sight of the team they expected to be when conference play began.
“Aside from those four games, the past month we’ve been playing pretty good baseball,” Messer said. “We’ve been in the middle of a pretty fun conference race. It’s tough to complain about that.”
With that race now over, the Bucks relaxed and unleashed on the Roughriders. And they put an emphatic stamp on the win with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the eighth.
Bozeman came up with five hits in the inning. Even pitcher Justin Abbott, who has 17 at bats to his name in the 59-game season, got in on the act, drilling a three-run double off the wall in centerfield.
It was all part of a night when Bozeman used all 17 players they had available — including seven pitchers.
Watching all of his Bucks have success tickled Messer, especially considering the Roughriders are 29-8 overall and 17-3 against North Dakota Class A opponents.
“That’s a quality ball club right there,” Messer said. “They were at regionals last year and they have a good chance of going back to that tournament this year. It was a good tune-up for the state tournament when we’re going to need contributions from all 18 guys.”
And seven of the 18 players Bozeman will take to state know a little more than that, considering they are all holdovers from the last state title team of 2007.
Doug Crossman and Kyle Britt are two of those seniors and both of them toed the rubber Tuesday, helping to hold the Roughriders to seven hits. One of the outs Crossman recorded was Arizona recruit Cole Frenzel, Dickinson’s third baseman.
Frenzel went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead the Roughriders at the plate.
Anthony Rinard, who went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a team-leading four runs scored Tuesday, is another.
“We want it bad,” Rinard said. “This is also the last year for the seven of us. I’d say we want it more than anyone else and we may have the best chance to win it because we’re going into the tournament hot.”
Dickinson 200 001 030 — 6 7 3
Bozeman 312 030 060 — 15 10 2
Tommy Peters, Conner McNeilly (5) and Michael Steve. Ben Leister, Sean Zabawa (3), Cullen Cameron (5), Doug Crossman (7), Dillon Peterson (8), Justin Abbott (8), Kyle Britt (9) and Andy Ballinger, Josh Mackay (7). W–Lister. L–Peters.
Highlights: Dickinson, Eric Seiler 2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Cole Frenzel 2-for-4, 2B, RBI; Tyler Steffan 1-4, 2B, RBI; Michael Steve 0-for-2, RBI; Conner McNeilly 1-3, 2B, RBI. Bozeman, Anthony Rinard 2-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI; Kyle Britt 1-for-5, RBI; Caleb Schlender 1-for-5, RBI; Andy Ballinger 1-for-1, 2B, 3 RBI; Justin Abbott 1-for-1, 2B, RBI; Ethan Wilkes 1-for-2, RBI, Ben Leister 1-for-2; Jamin Weidenaar 1-for-1, 2B.
Records: Dickinson 29-8.