Belgrade Bandits legion baseball

Belgrade’s Cooper VanLuchene delivers a pitch earlier this season in Livingston.

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In a back-and-forth battle, Belgrade proved victorious.

After leading by two runs to start and then giving up four runs in the third, the Bandits battled back by scoring six times in three innings for an 8-6 triumph over host Havre on Friday in a Class A tournament loser-out game.

Belgrade manager Johnny Graham summed up the game in one word: persistence.

“You feel the reality of being in a lose-or-go-home game,” Graham said of the loser’s bracket. “This first game is kind of the trickiest one. But we stayed persistent. We were able to score just enough.”

Lane Neill scored on a sacrifice bunt by Kash Fike in the first inning, and Brody Jacksha added another run in the second. But in the third, Eli Cloninger’s two-run double and another two scores on an error lifted Havre to a two-run advantage.

Belgrade remained determined. Payton Burman drove in a run on a single in the fourth. In the fifth, Neill scored and a Jacksha single led to Keaton Carter and Coby Richards reaching home.

Havre tied the game up later in the inning with a one-run double by Trenton Maloughney, who later scored himself.

But the Bandits pulled away in the sixth when Fike drove in a run on a single and Richards followed with a one-run double.

“We executed pretty well,” Graham said. “Really, it was those little jabs we were throwing. … Not a lot of hits strung together tonight, but for the most part when we got guys on base we made the most of it.”

Jacksha ended up with two hits with two RBIs. Richards, Jacksha, Cooper VanLuchene and Burman each totaled two hits. Jacksha and Richards each contributed a double.

In 5 ⅔ innings, Fike allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts. Richards pitched the final 1 ⅓ innings and didn’t give up a run or a walk while striking out two and allowing one hit.

The Bandits play at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s a difficult road,” Graham said. “If we put our best foot forward, good things can happen.”

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

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