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Legion tournament host struggles on home field

Sun Advocate reporter

Mike Smith calls off his teammates for a routine pop fly during a Helper American Legion tournament game against Minico, Idaho.

Helper's American Legion team had to wear the smile of a gracious host despite the disappointment of losing 3 of 4 games in their own annual baseball tournament.

According to coach Jeff Cisneros, the coaching staff took advantage of the tournament to get a lot of the younger players game experience against tough teams.

He said the tournament also allowed a lot of pitchers to get time on the mound.

The team couldn't quite scrape together the wins, though.

In the opening game for the local team, Helper was nearly shut out by Kearns' overpowering hurler.

Going into the seventh inning, Helper trailed 3-0.

A dropped third strike lead to Helper's only run in the game. Wes Baletka's dive into first base beat out the catcher's throw, allowing the advancing run from third to count. Kearns ended the game soon after, winning 3-1.

The following night, it was Helper that took a sizable advantage into the seventh after a Troy Grundy double in the sixth scored three and increased Helper's lead to 10-6.

Helper gave a couple back but was able to finally button things up take the 10-9 win over Minico, Idaho.

The team played Bellgrade, Mont. immediately following the Minico game.

Based on the tournament bracketing, the winner of the game would advance to Sunday's championship game.

Bellgrade walked away with the 10-8, pairing Helper with Cypress the next day in the fourth place game.

Helper would lose, 8-1.

Two Helper players, Chris Hatch and Troy Grundy, were named to the all tournament team for their performances over the weekend.

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