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Lions rally for win over Red Devils

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By Travis Jenkins

The Lewisville Lions made quick work of the Great Falls Red Devils in baseball on Friday. That doesn’t mean the game was a blowout, however.

The game was literally quick, clocking in at just under 90 minutes because both starting pitchers offered up a gem. Lewisville’s Drew Colvin and Great Falls’ Koby Ruff allowed only six hits between them and combined to record 18 strikeouts. Lewisville was able to author a late rally, though, to pull out a 4-1 victory.

Great Falls was able to take an early lead. Connor Henson led the game off with a single and eventually got into scoring position with a steal. He moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Ruff then scored on a Josh Lewis RBI single for a 1-0 lead.

It looked for a while like that run was all Ruff would need. He retired Lewisville’s batters in order in the first (with two strikeouts) and in the second (via a strikeout and two ground balls). The Lions didn’t manage to get a runner on base until the third inning, when Quentin Sanders was hit by a pitch to start a potential rally. Jack Jordan sacrificed him over to second with a perfect bunt, but an attempt to bunt him to third was popped up for the second out of the inning. Ruff then got Russell Noland to ground out to second to end the frame.

After giving up the first inning run, Colvin settled into dominant form, facing the minimum over the next four innings. He struck out four in that stretch and the only base runner he allowed (on a single by Ruff) was erased on a double play.

Ruff carried his shutout into the fifth and was close to getting it to the sixth, but with two outs, Sanders reached base on an error. He moved up to second on a balk and scored on another error to tie the game at 1-1.

Great Falls looked ready to ready to answer quickly. Kelton Talford had a one-out single in the top of the sixth and Ruff reached base on an error. Lewis followed that by hitting one back to Colvin. It took him a second to gather it in and, thinking quickly, he threw home, where catcher Alex Reed made an excellent catch of a high throw and managed to tag out Talford. Colvin fanned the next batter to escape further damage.

In the home half, Lewisville finally took its first lead of the night. Noland came up with a one-out single to bring Andrew Culp to the plate. He hit one in a perfect spot, as the ball was just over Talford’s outstretched glove at first, landed a few feet past the bag and rolled to the corner. Noland scored and Culp ended up at third with a triple. Trey Keels hit a hard shot that was mishandled, allowing another run to come home and Reed laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to plate another for a 4-1 lead. Colvin struck out the side in the top of the seventh to nail down the win.

Lewisville Coach Billy Keels said Colvin had a very good outing and did what was necessary to keep his team in the game. He also had high praise for Ruff, though, comparing him to one of his own former pitchers…current College of Charleston hurler Evan Sisk.

“Ruff’s gotten a lot stronger,” Keels said of the junior lefty. “He’s definitely got potential and he’s definitely a college pitcher. They’re going to be in a lot of games with him on the mound.”

Ben Roberts is in his first year as head coach at Great Falls. He said Ruff has pitched strong since the pre-season, but has had some bad luck at times. He threw a no-hitter in a pre-season tournament but lost the game 2-0 because of some errors. He noted that Ruff has actually visited Clemson twice already. As for Friday’s game, he said his team gave the kind of effort he was expecting but made a few too many mistakes.

“I knew we were going to play our best against them. We just had a couple of errors and things snowballed a little bit. We ended up throwing it around some,” he said.

With the loss, Great Falls started the region slate 0-1. Lewisville picked up a win Saturday over North Central 6-4. Trey Keels threw four scoreless innings to notch the win, while Reed and Jordan both tripled. Garrison Hyatt made a diving catch with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh to secure the Lions victory. Lewisville is now 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the region.

Great Falls was to have played Lamar Tuesday but the game was postponed because of field conditions and will be made up March 24. Lewisville was to have played a double-header at Timmonsville Tuesday but that was postponed until March 31.