Legion sweeps twinbill

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Josh Flickinger/Beloit Daily News Beloit's Kevin Raisbeck fires to first to complete a double play during the team's victory over Union Grove Thursday.

BELOIT - So maybe the competition wasn't quite up to snuff Thursday night at Pohlman Field.

That didn't change the fact the 19U Beloit Legion team had one final opportunity to tune up for the regional tournament, which begins Tuesday night at the Stateline Family YMCA Youth Sports Complex and they weren't going to waste it.

Beloit pounded visiting Union Grove 15-0 in game one before winning 8-2 in game two. The victories allowed Beloit to close the regular season with a 17-3 record and 11 straight victories.

Beloit coach Rich Raisbeck said he was pleased with his team's approach.

"You've got to remember that you're here for a reason, and that's to play the game of baseball," Raisbeck said. "And that's what they did. They stayed in it mentally and hit the ball well. We had a great approach, especially in that first game. In the second game, we moved some people around a little bit and got everyone prepared for the tournament."

In game one, Cade Johnson took the mound and pitched four scoreless frames, allowing four hits without a walk. Avery Lewis allowed three hits but no runs in the final frame of the mercy-rule shortened five inning contest.

Raisbeck said Johnson was solid, but still has room to improve.

"Cade has been pretty sharp in just about every outing," Raisbeck said. "Today the ball was up a little bit for him and they ran into a few. He's a grinder that works hard and takes a lot of pride in how he performs. He's going to be a big factor in what we do next week. He pitched well, but I still think there's more that he has in the tank."

The offense was inscrutable, pounding out 15 hits in just four innings, while drawing six walks. After scoring four runs to set the tone in the first inning, Beloit put the game away in the second with seven more scores.

Both Kyle Hamilton and Miguel Betancourt finished the game with three hits, while Kevin Raisbeck, Nate Loomis and Drew Freitag had two.

Betancourt also led the way with four RBI while Raisbeck had two as Union Grove committed six errors.

Game two wasn't as lopsided, but the outcome was hardly ever in doubt. After Union Grove scored a run against Betancourt in the top of the first, Beloit immediately responded with two in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good.

A four spot in the second inning, punctuated by several of the team's 11 walks, put Beloit ahead comfortably.

Betancourt ended up going three innings and allowing one run.

"I don't think we've seen the best of what Miggy has to offer yet this summer," Raisbeck said. "He's done what he's needed to do to win ball games and he's going to be big for us as we move forward."

Thanks primarily to the walk parade thrown by Union Grove pitchers, Beloit needed just four hits (two by Ethan Burns) to score the eight runs.

Raisbeck said the team's bats appeared ready for playoff action.

"This is a disciplined group," Raisbeck said. "They've played in a lot of big games and they knew what it takes to win. They aren't too anxious when they go up there, and they know the strike zone very well."

Loomis said the team took the evening seriously.

"Sure, we would've liked to have seen better competition," Loomis said. "But tonight was really important to us. We've got a tough regional, especially with Madison being added this year. We used tonight as kind of a dress rehearsal for Tuesday. We wanted to come out and hustle, focus and be locked in for all 14 innings. I think we did that tonight."

Beloit's defense appears ready for prime time as well, and a big reason has been the return to full health of second baseman Kevin Raisbeck, who was limited to designated hitter duties with a sore shoulder until recently.

"That's huge for us, because we can put 'Miggy' at third, 'Hammy' at short and Kevin at second," Loomis said. "I think that's the lineup that gives us the best chance to win. Those guys are really good at their positions. I feel like we are ready to go for Tuesday."

Beloit will open play following the opening game, which pits Madison against Janesville. Beloit takes on Lake Geneva in the nightcap.

.NOTES: The 16U Legion team opened regional play with a 7-0 win over East Troy. Riley Carroll picked up the win as the offense scored seven runs on just four hits. Beloit will take on Janesville at 3 p.m. in the second round of the double-elimination tournament.

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