SHELLEY — As the Shelley Russets enter the final week and a half of the American Legion season the team finds itself playing its' best baseball of the summer.
Coming into the district doubleheader with the Idaho Falls Bees on Tuesday, the Russets have won their last four games and sit near the top of the district standings at 6-8.
Knowing that only the top six teams from each district make the district tournament that takes place at the end of the month in Pocatello, every game is a big game.
It was apparent very early on Tuesday that the Russets were not going to be happy if they left Shelley High School with anything less than a sweep.
Thanks in part to a sparkaling outing from starter Tyler Bean in game one and an opportunistic defense in game two the Russets got that sweep earning a 6-5 and a 11-1 five inning victories.
Bean kept Idaho Falls hitters off balance all day long.
After giving up an RBI single in the first, Bean retired the next six hitter in a row, five by strikeout.
The Russets offense finally got going in the bottom of the third. Connor Montgomery and Josh Peterson started the inning with singles, after a double steal moved the runners to second and third, Bean got out in front of a pitch for a swinging bunt that traveled less than 10 feet from home plate, but it got the job done as the speedy Montgomery beat the diving tag attempt of Bees catcher Connor Witbeck.
Peterson came in to score a few pitches later on a balk by Bees starter Conlan Smith. Colt Johnson finished off the Shelley scoring with an RBI single driving in Bean.
Idaho Falls was able to tie the score in the top of the fourth after an RBI double by Alec Rierson, he would later score on a wild pitch.
Another wild pitch gave the Bees the lead in the sixth inning, but as has become the norm with the Russets in the last few weeks, a comeback was in order and the Russets made it happen.
Montgomery led off the inning with a single. He later scored on a throwing error by Witbeck.
With one out, Bean and Konnor Gilstrap singled setting the table for Johnson.
Johson singled to left field driving home Bean. Gilstrap scored on a ground ball hit by Marcus Gustaveson.
The Bees got a run in the seventh, but Bean was determined to finish what he started as he got the final out on a pop up to give the Russets the win.
Bean finished his complete game effort with 12 strikeouts allowing just five hits while walking three batters. He also was 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBI.
In game two the Russets showed its patience at the plate.
Shelley drew seven walks, two hit by pitches and three errors to put up nine runs in the first three innings.
Adam Smith had a two-RBI triple in the bottom of the second that was the big blow in a five-run inning.
Gilstrap doubled home a run in the third, and Braxton Smith drove home a run in the bottom of the fifth to put the Russets one run away from a win via the 10-run rule.
Enter Jason Burton.
Burton sat for all but the top half of the fifth inning of game two and when he came to the plate with Montgomery on second he focused on bringing home that game ending run.
His at-bat did not start well as he fell behind 0-2.
Undeterred he laced a single up the middle driving home Montgomery and ending the game and going Shelley a doubleheader sweep.
Montgomery allowed just three hits in his five inning complete game.
Shelley evened their district record at 8-8 and are now off until Friday when the travel to Pocatello and take on the Rebels.
First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Halliwell Park.
Shelley 6, Idaho Falls Bees 5
Bees 100 201 1 — 5 5 3
Shelley 003 003 x — 6 12 0
Bees — Conlan Smithand Conner Witbeck. Shelley — Tyler Bean and Colt Johnson. 2B — Ethan Hoopes (IF), Alec Rierson (IF). 3B — Josh Peterson (S).
Shelley 11, Idaho Falls Bees 1, 5 inn
Bees 000 10 — 1 3 3
Shelley 252 02 — 11 6 0
Bees — Sage Trejo, Zac Eldredge (2) and Conlan Smith. Shelley — Connor Montgomery and Adam Smith. 2B — Connor Montgomery (S), Konnor Gilstrap (S). 3B — Adam Smith (S).