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*Standings updated through games of July 1. Final regular-season conference game to be Saturday, July 23.
*16-game conference schedule; 2 games apiece due to U.S.-Canadian border PRC testing. Canadian teams to play all road games.
*Top 8 teams advance to Class AA State Tournament in Billings from July 27-31.

*State champion advances to Northwest Regional Tournament in Gillette, Wyo., from Aug. 3-7.
*Regional champion advances to World Series in Shelby, N.C., from Aug. 11-16.
*Butte does not have a Class AA team this season; but will be realigning with Class AA again, starting in 2023.

Team GameChanger Links

*Teams' GameChanger accounts that upgraded apps this season are not viewable outside of the new mobile application; therefore, links to upgraded GC accounts are not available for websites... yet. (You can find them on your mobile device, though, using the new app.)

Billings Royals
Billings Scarlets
Bozeman Bucks
Great Falls Chargers
Helena Senators
Kalispell Lakers
Lethbridge Elks
Medicine Hat Moose Monarchs
Missoula Mavs

July 1: Royals, Lakers, Scarlets stake quarter-season lead

KALISPELL--The Kalispell Lakers Class AA American Legion Baseball team split a doubleheader with the Lethbridge Elks on Friday to stay atop .500 ball on the conference season.

After Tuesday's doubleheader sweep by the Billings Royals over the Great Falls Chargers, the Royals improved to 5-1 on the conference season. Kalispell is second at 3-1. The Billings Scarlets are third at 3-2. The defending state champion Helena Senators are fourth at 3-3.

All other teams are below .500, with roughly three-quarters of the conference season to go, packed into a three weeks. The state tourney starts in less than a month.

June 30: Tenney uses 69 pitches for complete-game shutout as Helena (3-3) beats Bozeman (2-4)

HELENA--Talk about pitching to contact.

Helena pitcher Tyler Tenney allowed just three hits and no walks, while striking out just three, in using 69 pitches to earn a seven-inning complete game shutout and help lead the Senators to an 8-0 Class AA conference victory over Bozeman.

The Senators improved to 4-2 in conference play; Bozeman fell to 3-3.

Tenney induced 10 fly ball outs and 5 groundouts. His defense also backed him up with three double plays.

Tenney added some offense with an RBI double. Tycen Mooney went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for Helena. Hunter Wallis had two hits and an RBI, and Hunter Bratcher had an RBI single and scored twice, in the win.

June 28: Billings twins enjoying final ALB season with Royals

Click here to read Billings Gazette sports reporter John Letasky's article

June 25: Medicine Hat wins 1st conference game since 2019

LETHBRIDGE, Alberta--Welcome back to the league!

Medicine Hat pitcher Payton Eddy struck out nine while spreading six hits and six walks over five innings, and outfielders J Bullock and E Morrison combined to go 6-for-8 with two doubles, a triple, four runs scored, and four RBIs to help lead the Moose Monarchs in beating Lethbridge, 13-3, on Saturday night.

With the Canadian-U.S. border closed over the last two seasons, it was the first MAALB Class AA victory for Medicine Hat (1-2) since 2019.

NOTE: Kalispell and Great Falls rescheduled their Class AA conference doubleheader from June 29 to July 6.

June 21: Wet June postpones 8 games

KALISPELL--So far this month in Class AA conference games, mother nature has postponed eight games, including the last four games across the state.

The wet spring has brought dangerous flooding across the state, including closing down Yellowstone National Park.

While the Kalispell Lakers and Missoula Mavs were able to reschedule a doubleheader a couple days later and the Helena Senators and Billings Scarlets were able to move a game up a day to get it in before the weather came, Great Falls, Helena, and the two Billings teams have endured five postponements that their make-up days haven't been determined. 

On a brighter note, this week on Saturday, June 25, the two Canadian Class AA teams should play their first league game against each other since 2019.

June 18: Great Falls (2-1) sweeps Med Hat (0-2); Helena (3-2) drops Scarlets (2-3)

GREAT FALLS--Great Falls pitcher Fox Weymouth pitched a one-hitter to help lead the Chargers to a 6-0 victory in game 1, then catcher B Evans was a home run short of hitting for the cycle in going 3-for-4 with four RBIs to help lead the Chargers complete the doubleheader sweep, 16-6, over Medicine Hat on Saturday.

The Chargers improved to 2-1 while Medicine Hat started the season 0-2. 

Elsewhere in Class AA action, Helena pitcher Tyler Tenney hit the pitch count one batter shy of a complete-game victory, and right fielder H Wallis went 2-for-3 with three RBIs to pace the offense, as the Senators downed the Billings Scarlets, 8-1.

Helena improved to 2-3 on the conference season while the Scarlets dropped to 3-2.

It was the first time a Canadian team has played Class AA conference game in Montana since 2019. Border issues and the cost of individual covid PRC testing forced Montana teams to decide not to travel into Canada for the Class AA conference schedule. So, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat are traveling into Montana for all conference games this season. With this being the first time they've played a conference game, it was decided today that in their doubleheaders, they would be the visiting team in one game and home team in the other. To alleviate financial and logistic issues for the Canadian teams, the Class AA conference schedule includes just two games between all teams. In years past, the conference schedule has included three and four games between opponents.

June 17: Billings crosstown sees Scarlets (3-1) down Royals (3-1), 12-3

BILLINGS--Royals pitcher Jaiden Turner struck out 10 while walking none and spreading nine hits over seven innings, and Scarlets pitchers gave up nine walks and nine hits, as the Royals downed the Scarlets, 12-3, Friday night.

A quarter of the way through the regular-season conference schedule sees a three-way tie atop the Class AA standings, with the Royals, Scarlets, and Kalispell having 3-1 records.

The Royals' No. 9 hitter, center fielder Lance Schaaf, went 3-for-4 with a double, four RBIs and two runs scored. First baseman Davis Mosier had two hits, including a double, and two RBIs in the victory.

The teams tied each other with nine hits; but the Scarlets gave up nine walks while earning none.  

June 15: Scarlets (3-0) sweep Bozeman (2-3)

BILLINGS--Cleanup hitter Michael Feralio went 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs, and pitcher Spencer Berger spread seven hits and only one earned run over seven innings while striking out seven, to help the Scarlets hold off a late rally attempt by Bozeman to secure an 8-7 Class AA victory and complete a doubleheader sweep on Wednesday night. 

The Scarlets sit atop the early-season standings at 3-0. Bozeman fell to 2-3. There are only 16 conference games for nine teams to seed themselves into the eight-team tourney, starting July 27 in Billings.

In the first game, Billings pitchers Jayden Averill and Bradley Wagner combined on an eight-strikeout four-hitter to spoil Bozeman pitcher Michael Armstrong's complete-game to help lead the Scarlets to a 6-2 victory.

June 14: Scarlets, Chargers rained out during Montana flooding event

Reschedule TBD... Hope all of you and your families across the state weather the flooding OK.

June 10: Royals (2-1) sweep Helena (1-3)

Click here to check out the coverage from the Independent Record sports reporter Daniel Shephard and photography by BMG's Gary Marshall.

June 9: Billings Scarlets beat Royals, 3-0

Link to sports coverage from the Billings Gazette's sports reporter John Letasky and photographer Mike Clark

June 7: Kalispell sweeps Missoula

Link to sports article from 406sports.com

June 7: Kalispell sweeps Missoula

KALISPELL--In a pair of one-run victories, including the first in walk-off fashion, the Kalispell Lakers swept the Missoula Mavs on Tuesday night, 6-5 and 4-3.

These were the conference openers for each team, after Sunday's doubleheader in Kalispell were rained out and rescheduled to this date.

Kalispell pitchers Kostya Hoffman and Max Holder started on the mound in each game.

Hoffman started the first game and pitched six innings, allowing four hits, a walk, and two earned runs while striking out three and keeping his pitch count at 70.  After a 1-1 ball game going into the 6th inning, he gave up two runs. But the Lakers rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead into the 7th inning. Holder came in to start the 7th inning on the mound, trying  to save the game, but the Mavs tied the game with two runs.

Kalispell's Elijah Owens led off the bottom of the 7th with a double off the right field wall, then was bunted over to third base. Oscar Kallis delivered the dramatics with a walk-off sacrifice fly to left field on the first pitch he saw as a pinch hitter.

 

June 1: Bozeman beats Helena

Link to Helena Independent Record's sports writer Daniel Shepard's coverage with BMGphotos photographer Gary Marshall's pictures

June 1, 2022: MAALB Class AA conference season underway

HELENA--The Bozeman Bucks Class AA ALB team beat the defending state champion Helena Senators, 8-1, on Wednesday to open the Class AA conference slate.

Nine Class AA Montana-Alberta ALB teams are vying to earn the top eight spots into the Class AA State Tournament in Billings, starting on Wednesday, July 27. They will play a 16-game regular-season conference schedule to determine the top eight seeds for the state tourney.

It was an offseason of tough pills to swallow as the landscape of amateur baseball in Montana continues to change.

First, Class AA coaches and state chairmen met over Zoom Internet calls in December and January to figure out a conference schedule, which still included U.S.-Canadian border issues. The Montana teams all determined that they could not financially afford to pay for all of the individual  PRC rapid testings every time they crossed the border to play either Lethbridge or Medicine Hat. All the while, both of the Canadian programs were trying to figure out if they were going to join an Alberta provincial league. But, eventually, both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat decided that they enjoy and appreciate the competition in Montana's American Legion Baseball so much after not being able to participate the last two seasons because of covid and the closed border, that their programs would travel down into Montana for all conference games. 

To help offset the logistical and financial issues associated with traveling to play seven Montana teams in regular-season conference games, coaches agreed on a two-game schedule with each conference opponent. In years past, the teams have squared off three and four times apiece for a regular-season conference schedule. So, this year, each conference game is heavier, in terms of weight for the postseason.

Then, in January, the Montana High School Association officially adopted baseball for its high schools. For many reasons, Montana's Class AA coaches were worried and against the MHSA decision.  High school baseball essentially cuts in half the Legion season. Coaches are also worried the kids will get their baseball fix during the high school season and not want to continue playing through the summer, so the programs' participation numbers could also dwindle. Also, coaches worry that inexperienced high school programs could not have an offseason pitching arm workout program and could abuse pitchers' arms in the early season (March, April, and May) in such a way that pitchers could suffer arm, shoulder, or elbow injuries and be unavailable for the summer.

Indeed, it's a changing landscape that's going to continue; but, the Montana American Legion Baseball program will continue to thrive.

 

Carl Hennell

Carl Hennell

Montana Class AA Chairman