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Somerset beats New Richmond, causing tie for Legion title

The Somerset American Legion baseball team earned a tie for the region Legion conference championship by beating New Richmond last Tuesday.

Somerset and New Richmond finish with two losses each to lead the area Legion teams. St. Croix Falls finished third in the region with a 12-4 record.

Shortstop Dakota Belter turned into an offensive machine to lead Somerset past New Richmond last Tuesday. In each of his first two at-bats, Belter drove pitches from New Richmond's Nick Swystun over the fence for two-run homers.

By the middle of the second inning, Somerset led 5-0. New Richmond came back with two runs in the bottom of the second inning.

Belter struck again in the fourth inning. Zack Warren doubled with one out and moved up on a wild pitch. New Richmond was using a drawn-in infield in hopes of preventing Warren from scoring. Belter ruined that plan by driving a low, outside pitch up the middle for a single.

Belter is hitting nearly .600 for the summer season.

Somerset added two critical runs in the top of the seventh inning. Singles from Sean Conrad, Jared Dettman and Rocky Larson produced the runs, which put Somerset ahead 8-2.

New Richmond made a run at Somerset in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs before Somerset could end the threat.

Dettman pitched the first five innings and Conrad pitched the final two frames.

The top of the Somerset batting order had an outstanding night. Belter, Conrad and Larson each had three hits and Warren and Dettman had two hits, totalling 13 hits from the top five spots in the batting order.

Somerset coach Ron Willett said his team was inspired to beat New Richmond after losing to them in the first round of league play.

"The kids were really intense. They knew it was a chance for redemption," Willett said.

Somerset then needed a win at Amery on Thursday to lock up a share of the league title. That proved to be much more difficult than the Somerset boys were anticipating. They trailed Amery 2-0 after five innings.

A three-run burst in the sixth inning pulled the game out for Somerset, which finished with a 3-2 win.

Singles by Conrad and Dettman started the sixth inning for Somerset. Larson then proved to be an impossible out. He fouled off pitch after pitch. On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, he drove a dove over the head of the Amery leftfielder, scoring both runners.

Ben Kieckhoefer then strode to the plate. He hit a smash up the middle that the Amery shortstop got a glove on, but couldn't control. By the time he chased down the ball, Larson had scored from second base.

Nick Dvorak pitched the first six innings to earn the win for Somerset. Conrad picked up the save by pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

Regional tournament

Somerset will be competing in the American Legion Class A regional tournament in Prescott this week, in hopes of qualifying for the Legion state tournament.

Somerset's first game will be at 6 p.m. against Prescott, at Prescott's city field. If Somerset wins that game, they will play again at 3 p.m. on Thursday. If they lose Wednesday's game, Somerset would play again at 12:30 p.m. This is a double-elimination tournament.

Joining Somerset and Prescott in the tournament are Amery, Bloomer and Ellsworth.