SAN BERNADINO, Calif. - The Boulder/Arrowhead little leaguers out of Billings won their opening game at the Northwest Regional Little League Baseball tournament in San Bernadino, Calif. on Monday evening in come-from-behind fashion to win 6-5.
Idaho opened the scoring with three runs in the top of the first inning and led 3-1 after one. Montana evened the score, 3-3, in the bottom of the third inning with a pair of runs.
"I think anytime you go down 3-0 in the top of the first, there's a little crack in the dyke. When we come back and at least get one run in the bottom of the first, I think that helped set the tone of, 'Hey. This is possible. This is possible,'" head coach Jeff Ballard told MTN Sports. "I think after the first inning the nerves settled down. We played pretty good defense after that. We were able to at least keep us in there and give us opportunities."
Montana, though, found itself trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Drew Heigis singled in a pair of runners to tie the score entering the sixth and final inning.
Montana would then push across the winning run in the bottom of the frame, as Jaxon King scored on a wild pitch to end the game.
"It was pandemonium, really. All the players jumping up and down and the reality of a win was certainly something that was incredibly exciting for the boys. To fight back all game and being behind for most of it, it was just awesome," Ballard said.
Montana will play Washington at 7 p.m. on ESPN on Thursday evening. The winner will guarantee a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn.
"We're not in awe of the hitters by any means. They're all good teams here, so it's always a challenge," Ballard said. "Washington has got some really strong arms. They'll have the best pitching we've seen all year. It'll be a test to get balls in play and put pressure on their defense, but that's why you play the game. If we can play clean defensively, hopefully our pitching can hold us in there and then you never know. ... We're going to have to win a low-scoring, close game, I think, to beat them, but that could be done. We certainly can pitch and play some defense at times, so hopefully we can do that on Thursday."