OGDEN, Utah -- Montana scored eight runs on seven hits -- Idaho State’s four errors, six walks and five wild pitches certainly helped -- and the Griz used a four-run sixth inning to run-rule the Bengals 8-0 and advance in Big Sky Conference softball tournament’s winners’ bracket Thursday.
The win sets up a rematch with Weber State, which advanced with a 1-0 shutout of Southern Utah.
The Grizzlies and Wildcats, who will meet for the fourth time in eight days, play at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to Saturday’s championship.
Montana (33-22) got on the scoreboard in the second inning. After hits by Madison Saacke and Alex Wardlow loaded the bases, Dani Walker hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Sydney Stites from third.
Anne Mari Petrino then slapped a two-out single up the middle to score Saacke, and Gabby Martinez followed with an infield single that she beat out to drive in Wardlow.
Montana’s batters in the 6-9 spots in the lineup all had hits on a day when Ashlyn Lyons, Bethany Olea, Delene Colburn and Stites combined to go 1 for 12.
“The bottom of the lineup was huge. That was really key for us today,” said Pinkerton. “Whenever you can win without relying on the middle of the order, that’s always a good thing
Pinkerton started freshman Michaela Hood, and she improved to 16-5 with the shutout.
Montana scored once in the fifth then won it in the sixth, largely due to Idaho State. After Wardlow singled to center with one out for her second hit of the day, ISU reliever Mariah Mulcahy walked the next four Montana batters, which forced in two to make it 6-0.
With the bases still loaded, Olea grounded one to short that was thrown away for an error and scored Petrino. Colburn ended the game with an RBI single to left that made it 8-0.
The winner of Friday's matchup with Weber advances straight to Saturday’s championship game, where it would be one win away from a title and the NCAA tournament. The other team would need to win one more time on Saturday morning just to return to the championship. Once there it would have to twice defeat Friday’s winner.