MISSOULA — James Martin drew a walk to lead off the inning in his first two plate appearances.
The Missoula Mavericks’ lone college player made Great Falls pay when they refused to put him on with a runner in scoring position the next time up.
Martin connected on an RBI single that put Missoula (19-14, 2-3) ahead for good and started a four-run rally in the fourth inning. The bullpen held the lead for pitcher Thomas Martin in his first start for the AA Mavs, a 9-6 win over the Chargers on Monday at Lindborg-Cregg Field.
“Being walked twice already, I was ready to swing the bat. That’s for sure,” James Martin said. “I didn’t think they were going to throw a fastball, but once you get down in the count, you’re more than likely going to get a fastball, so I was sitting ready for it.”
He drove in Beau King, who reached on a one-out walk, with a grounder past the diving shortstop. His hit was the first of four that inning, all of them coming with two outs and driving in a run.
“Before I stepped into the box, I said to myself, ‘A nice hit into the 5.5 hole wouldn’t be too bad right now,’” he said. “Call it what you want with envisioning, but I thought it was pretty cool I got the hit there.”
Brendan Buchanan followed with an RBI triple. Tradd Richardson and Dane Fraser then came up with back-to-back RBI singles.
The rally started a comeback that began the inning before when Connor Daniels tied the game 3-3 with a two-out, two-run single in the third. His hit to the opposite field drove in James Martin and Buchanan, who were in danger of being stranded at second and third after getting there with no outs.
That was the second run Martin scored; he crossed the plate without the Mavs recording a hit in the first inning as they took a 1-0 lead. He drew a walk, advanced to second on Buchanan’s sacrifice bunt, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a balk.
Thomas Martin, who was called up from the A Mavs a few weeks ago, held Great Falls to five runs in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed eight hits and walked one in a respectable outing that could’ve been better without two errors behind him and the four batters he hit.
“I was a little sore coming in,” said Martin, who had been going through a college-level workout program with older brother James.
Adding to the pain was a line drive he took off his leg in the first inning.
“That got me going,” he said.
Great Falls got to him in the second inning, taking a 2-1 lead on an RBI sacrifice hit and a two-out infield single. The Chargers loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a bunt single as Thomas Martin and catcher Clayton Franke had a miscommunication as to who would field the ball.
“After I got through the big inning they had, I settled in,” Martin said. “I just had to stay relaxed, not get in my head, throw strikes and let my defense work behind me.”
Missoula went down 3-1 in the third when Martin hit a batter with the bases loaded and two outs. He had nearly wiggled out of a jam, recording two outs after the Chargers put runners on second and third with no outs because of a Mavs error.
Great Falls added two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh off of relievers Reilly Vetos and Kaden Heidrick.
The Mavs and the Chargers will play a doubleheader Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Lindborg-Cregg Field.