Braves bust up Bandits to closeout regular season

Livingston Braves Zander Petrich, center, and Conner Busby, right, celebrate with teammate Buck Spallone after scoring a run against the Belgrade Bandits on Saturday in Livingston. Enterprise photo by Jordan P. Ingram.
Jordan P. Ingram
Enterprise Staff Writer

Not so fast, folks. 

Once again, the Livingston Braves (8-20, 16-28) demonstrated their ability to beat anyone in the Southern A conference after thumping the league-leading Belgrade Bandits 13-5 in an American Legion baseball game on Saturday at Jack Weimer Memorial Field in Livingston. 

The rival matchup was a continuation from a Monday, July 10 game, whi was temporarily postponed due to extreme weather. 

Leading the Bandits 6-2 in the top of the fourth inning, Livingston picked up right where it left off by scoring seven runs in its final three at bats to serve Belgrade its first and only conference loss of the season. 

Buck Spallone, pitching in his final American Legion home game, earned the complete-game win from the mound for the Braves, throwing seven strikeouts and allowing six hits and five runs in 61/2 innings. 

“It feels awesome,” Buck Spallone said. “It was a great way to end the last home game of my career. We really wanted that win.” 

Sage McMinn went 4 for 5 with two doubles, four RBI and two runs scored to lead the Braves, who outhit the Bandits, 18-6. 

Clayton Busby, Ethan Bullock and Zander Petrich each went 3 for 5, each knocking in a double and combining for 5 RBI for Livingston, which finished with six doubles on the afternoon.

Rydell Floyd went 2 for 2 with an RBI and scored a run and Brock Peterson went 2 of 4 with a double and two runs scored for the Livingston Braves. 

Livingston head coach Rich Spallone emphasized the importance of the win for his squad before heading into the district tournament this week. 

“This team wanted to beat (the Bandits) so bad they couldn’t see straight,” Rich Spallone said. “I don’t know why, but this felt like the most important game of the season. Belgrade just gets under our skin.”

The Bandits (25-1, 44-13) came into the game undefeated in the Southern A and looking to keep that streak alive. But the Braves kept their foot on the gas pedal, knuckling down to submit one of their finest performances of the season. 

“Our guys started out with three doubles in a row,” Rich Spallone said. “Once we get that kind of momentum going, it’s hard to stop us. It’s been a tough season but we are proud of these boys.”     

In the field, walks and errors have  been a reoccurring thorn in the side for Livingston — which surrendered a season total of 284 bases on balls — a statistic that Rich Spallone hopes to clean up as the Braves enter the postseason.   

“We’ve really struggled with walks and errors this season,” Rich Spallone said. “But if we can get that together, these kids can beat anybody on any given day. And that’s the fun thing about baseball.”

Sunday, July 16

Livingston Braves 9, Helena Reps 8 

The Braves collected 12 hits en route to a road victory over the No. 2 Helena Reps in the opening game of a Southern A doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Kindrick Legion Field in Helena. 

Thad Hampson went 2 of 3 with a double and a run scored to lead the Braves, who finished with 12 hits.  

Ethan Bullock went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI, Sage McMinn was 2 for 4 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored and Zander Petrich had two hits for Livingston.

Bullock allowed a hit and two runs in two and 2/3 innings to earn the win for the Braves.


Helena Reps 16, Livingston Braves 6

Ethan Bullock went 3 for 3 with two RBI and two runs scored and Buck Spallone was 2 of 3 with an RBI and scored a run for the Livingston Braves in their loss to the Reps on Sunday at Kindrick Legion Field. 

Thad Hampson knocked in an RBI single and Conner Busby, Zander Petrich, Brock Peterson each had a hit for the Braves.