THREE FORKS — After taking a line drive to his left foot early in Game 2 Tuesday at Imerys Field, Coby Richards fought through the pain.

The junior took a couple of practice pitches from the mound and then soldiered on in leading Belgrade to victory. The Bandits won the contest 5-2 to salvage a split against Gallatin Valley, which had won the opener 6-5.

“He is a tough kid,” Belgrade manager Johnny Graham said. “That ball off his foot and then he had a blister show up on his foot like a son of gun under his sock — just grinding through it. You wouldn’t know it. That kid is just a tough young man.”

Richards tossed a four-hitter and struck out eight batters before being relieved in the seventh. He also knocked in the game’s first run with a first-inning double.

“Our younger guys were a little over matched with Coby today,” longtime Gallatin Valley coach Duwayne Scott said. “But hopefully if we see him at districts we can make some adjustments.”

It was the final conference games of the season for the Bandits (33-13-1), who finished with a 17-3 record.

They will finish no lower than the No. 2 seed heading into next week’s district tournament and could still earn the No. 1 seed depending on what happens with the Outlaws (31-14, 14-2), who have four league games remaining this weekend.

“We’ll take whatever seed we get and go compete at districts,” Graham said.

The Outlaws scored five runs in the bottom of the first in the opener and then held on to win. Belgrade scored twice in the third and then added two more runs in the fifth to get within a score.

But the Outlaws got a key double by Hunter Johnson in the bottom of the fifth, and he scored on the next at-bat when Michael Nehring singled. That proved to be the key run after Belgrade trimmed the deficit back to one in the sixth.

Despite the early struggles, Graham was pleased with how his team battled back.

“I was real happy with Game 1,” he said. “We kept them around that five mark, we stayed grounded and we stayed within ourselves. I thought kids stayed confident as a group, and to do that, you have to be confident as (an) individual. Got right back in that game and put ourselves in position to where we could have won it.”

The Bandits struck first in Game 2 with a pair of first-inning runs. Cole Thomas scored the second on a passed ball.

While the Outlaws scored in the bottom half of the frame, they had limited success from there against Richards and committed a pair of costly errors defensively.

Easton Page and Marcos Verdeja each had a pair of hits in leading the Bandits’ offense, while Bo Hays scattered six hits and struck out six on the mound for Gallatin Valley. Hays also walked three batters and hit two more.

“That’s what happens when you get two good teams and teams take advantage of mistakes,” Scott said. “First game we were able to take advantage of some of their mistakes, and second game they took advantage of our mistakes with walks, hit batters and stuff like that.”

Gallatin Valley hosts Bozeman A Saturday and then wraps up the regular season Sunday at Helena. Belgrade caps the regular season at the Boise Summer Classic Tournament in Boise, Idaho.

Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.