The Glacier Babe Ruth Baseball All-Stars are on a roll.
After going 2-2 to open the season in May, the 15U team has rattled off 18 straight wins and won three straight tournaments heading into this weekend’s state tournament at Sapa/Johnsrud Memorial Field.
According to head coach Steve Andrachick, it’s the close friendships between his players that make the team so dangerous.
“Some of these kids have been playing together since they were 8 or 9 and other have been playing against each other that whole time. I think it is the chemistry of this team that makes us play so well,” he said. “A lot of these kids know each other and spend a lot of time together, but there is no drama. You really don’t see a lot of teams with that kind of chemistry. Even the parents get along well.”
Andrachick said the two losses to open the season were a bit misleading, as his players got only two hours of practice together before opening the Memorial Day Tournament in Helena against teams that had been playing together for weeks. Even with the minimal practice time, the Glacier team lost both games by a combined three runs and then started the winning streak they will take into state competition.
“I’m actually a little glad we lost those two early games. To know how to win you have to know that you can be beaten too,” he said. “It makes you hungry.”
And hungry is exactly how Andrachick describes this All-Star team.
“These kids really want to win state. They have lost some tough games over the past few years and they feel it is their turn,” he said. “They should have won it when they were 11. They should have won it when they were 12, 13 and last year. We just couldn’t seem to win the close ones and lost several in extra innings. This year we can pull away, but we also seem to be able to win the close ones.”
That hunger has helped lead to the team to 18-straight wins, including titles at the Missoula Firecracker, Ed Gallo Memorial tournaments. The team also won the Helena Father’s Day Tournament after picking up a blowout 18-1 win in the championship game.
“We have good pitching and good athletes. We have players that can hit the crap out of the ball and we are fast. Columbia Falls and Whitefish really do turn out some good ballplayers,” Andrachick said. “I hope we play as good this weekend as we have been and I hope we come out and accomplish what we plan to accomplish.”
With a state title, the team would advance to the Regional Tournament in Camas, Wash., where they would take on squads from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Canada starting July 21. A title there would qualify them for the World Series in Bismarck, N.D. Aug. 8-15.
The Glacier team will open the state tournament against Kalispell at 10 a.m. Friday before taking on Hi Line at 5 p.m.
The third-place game will be Saturday at 11 a.m. with the championship game set for 2:30 p.m.