Last week, the Bitterroot Bucs showed what a team with heart can accomplish. The Bucs entered the American Legion State A tournament as the second seed from the western conference. They didn’t finish in second place in the district tournament but because they were the host team for the state tournament, they got to play at the state tournament. In fact, the Bucs were the eighth seed at the district tournament.
But that didn’t stop these north Bitterroot boys. After losing to Laurel in the first game of the state tournament by 10 runs, the team decided to change their game face, play harder, and have more fun. The change in attitude helped immensely. They came back to defeat the Lewistown Red Birds, 14-4, and stay alive in the double elimination tournament.
On Monday, the Bucs went up against the Mission Valley Mariners, the No. 1 seed from the West. Once again it was a battle but the Bucs came from behind to upend the Mariners, 9-8, and advanced to the quarter finals.
Instead of growing weaker with each game, it seemed as if each game, even each inning, the Bucs grew stronger and became even more focused on each play, pitch and at bat. After beating Mission Valley, the Bucs found themselves up against Laurel again. But this time, they were prepared and quickly got the momentum going for themselves. After jumping out to an early lead, they held the Dodgers to only one run and went on to win, 4-1. The dream was growing.
The Gallatin Valley Outlaws were one of the favorites heading into the tournament and sported a very talented team. The Outlaws built up a lead and it was looking like the dream was about to end. With a 13-6 lead in the top of the sixth inning, the Bucs had a huge hole to climb out of. But they did. However the Bucs were running out of pitchers and struggled in the sixth inning which allowed GVO to run the score up to13. Gallatin Valley scored once more in the top of the seventh inning but then it was the Bucs’ turn. Brenden Bailey got on base with a single. He was followed by Alex Gavlak. Bailey scored on an overthrow to third and Gavlak was on third. Kohlman stepped up and beat the throw to first on a mishandled ball that scored Gavlak. Brendan Schneiter hit a single that moved Kohlman around, and another wild throw put him on third. Scully knocked Kohlman in for the tie. Then it was up to Zack Christopherson. He hit a single which was difficult for the defender to handle. That send the Bucs’ runner home for the 15-14 win and a chance at the championship.
They had 45 minutes to celebrate, rest and get ready to take on Vauxhall, Alberta, for the championship. The Vauxhall Spurs were well rested and quickly built up a lead. They went on to win, 11-3, but the Bucs showed what heart is. From coming into the tournament at the bottom of the rung to leaving in second place, these Bitterroot Bucs are certainly a team of champions.