The Rapid City Post 320 Stars hung in there late and then hung a 6-5 loss on the Billings Royals in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night in American Legion baseball action at Pete Lien Memorial Field.
The Stars trailed 5-3 in the sixth inning after a couple of errors opened the floodgates for three runs by Billings.
But a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning by catcher Wyatt Hunt, and one run in the bottom of the seventh on a Billings error tied the game, before the Stars won it in the eighth.
In that final inning, Post 320 won the game when Renn Svenson laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, only to see Billings pitcher Aiden Montez throw the ball away at first base, allowing the Stars' Logan Miller to score from second. Miller reached on a double to start the inning.
Four errors had the Stars in trouble, but pitching and offense bailed them out in the end.
"A couple of those errors killed us, but we kept pushing through it and our pitchers did a real good job top keep us in the game there," Hunt said. "That's what really helped us, our pitching."
Billings was putting the wheel move defensively on Morgan at second base, and the Stars were able to execute the bunt to perfection and then some, getting the winning score on the error.
Rapid City head coach Brian Humphries said the game winning play was a bit fitting for Svenson, who didn't start the game
"I had a conversation with Renn Svenson. He's normally a starter, but I told him he wasn't going to start, but be ready because I might call on you later in the game; make sure that you stay prepared, and he did exactly what he needed to do," Humphries said.
Hunt's home run boosted the Stars after the Royals appeared to have all of the momentum after the big sixth inning.
"I've been in a slump for a while, so I just tried to change some things up there a little hit," he said. 'I felt good on that first pitch and just drove it to the opposite field like I was supposed to. It just kept going."
Stars starting pitcher Isaac Powers was hurt by the shoddy Rapid City defense early in the game. He went the first six innings and gave up all five Billings runs, but only one run was earned.
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"We still have some issues with errors," Humphries said. "In the last six games we have given up something like 25 or 26 runs and only five of them are earned. Those errors are in key positions where players need to make plays at second base and shortstop. We have struggled the last few games. Our defense was very good at the beginning of the year. I don't know what the issue is now."
Orion Brenden got the win, shutting down the Royals in the final two scoreless innings
Ian Krump had a RBI double in the third inning and a run-scoring triple in the fifth inning, while Grayson Skinner brought Krump home with a RBI sac fly in the fifth.
"The offense did a very good job at the end of the game," Humphries said. "I would say that good teams score late.
"I've always told our guys that we will hit," he added. "I have never once doubted that we can hit. We have power — seven home runs — so if we just get walk or error and have a home run, it gets us right back into it."
Jaeden Jordahl led Billings with three hits and an RBI, while Dann Blanchard had two hits and two runs batted in.
The Stars, 12-7, will now prepare for four games in Pierre Friday and Saturday in the annual Border Battle. Post 320 and Pierre will play Mandan and Bismarck, North Dakota in two games each both days.
"I think this is a good win for when we head up to Pierre for the Border Battle," Hunt said.
Humphries said it will be a good challenge for his squad.
"I've heard that Bismarck is solid team this year, their high school program won North Dakota State," he said. "It will be a good challenge and that is what we want. We don't want to have a schedule with easy teams because when it comes down to playoff situations, we're not prepared. You only get better by playing good teams."
The Royals, meanwhile, will stay in Rapid City and compete in the veterans Classic at Fitzgerald Stadium today through Sunday.