MISSOULA — Dylan Chalmers was struggling to hit his spots on the mound.
So the Missoula Mavericks’ ace pitcher made an in-game tweak to try to correct his pitch location.
He turned around a shaky start and retired the final 11 batters as the Mavs posted a 3-1 win over the Great Falls Chargers to earn the series victory Tuesday at Lindborg-Cregg Field.
“I’ve been losing site of the catcher’s glove when I’ve been pitching,” Chalmers said, adding that he usually takes his eye off the glove for a split second before regaining focus. “The last couple innings, I started keeping my eye on the glove more and I just started hitting my spots better. It was something I figured out (during the game) that helped me.”
The Mavs completed the three-game sweep with a 4-3 victory in the second game of the doubleheader. They won their fourth consecutive game and improved to 21-14 overall, 4-3 in conference play.
“A conference sweep, a three-game sweep, is huge for us,” Mavs manager Brent Hathaway said. “All the wins, doesn’t matter who they’re against, all count the same amount. We’ll take them.”
In the opener, Chalmers (5-3) limited the Chargers to one run on six hits in the complete-game performance, walking one and striking out two.
The lone run Chalmers gave up came in the third inning as he left pitches, including his curve, over the middle of the plate. The Chargers started the frame with three consecutive hits, including an RBI single from Cal Cromwell. Chalmers got back-to-back infield line drive outs to limit the damage after he loaded the bases with a one-out walk.
He had gotten a 4-6-3 double play the prior inning and worked out of a one-out jam with runners on the corners in the fourth inning. He settled in after that, picking up his second win against Great Falls after he tossed an eight-inning complete game for a 4-3 win on April 28.
“I wasn’t hitting my spots as well as I liked, and my curveball was off and on,” Chalmers said. “So I figured I’d just try something different, and it worked well."
The offense came around to support Chalmers in the fifth inning after struggles on the basepaths put their scoring opportunities on hold. They were thrown out in their first three attempts at stealing a base and totaled just five hits against Nolan Croskrey.
Sam Bucy tied the game, 1-1, when he scored from third base on Clayton Franke’s one-out sacrifice bunt. He had reached on a leadoff walk, stole the Mavs’ first base and moved to third on Kaden Heidrick’s single.
Heidrick scored the go-ahead run when he crossed the plate from second base on a two-out, hit-and-run single by leadoff batter James Martin.
Two batters later, Tradd Richardson singled to center field, and Martin was ruled to have crossed the plate before Brendan Buchanan was thrown out at third base during the play.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Mavs built a 3-0 lead in the third inning and held on for a 4-3 win after a tense seventh inning. They won again despite their lack of hitting, getting out-hit 24-18 in the three-game series.
“Still would like to see us be able to hit the ball better,” Hathaway said. “We’re struggling putting the barrel on the ball. We’re always finding that we’re under pressure. If you struggle to score runs, then you feel that you can’t give them up either. So now you’ve got everybody on pins and needles. So kind of a concern area for us.”
Tradd Richardson broke the scoreless tie with a two-out, two-run double to left field. The hit drove in Beau King and James Martin, and upped his team-high RBI total to 29.
Dane Fraser followed with an RBI triple to right-center field.
The Mavs added an insurance run in the sixth to push their lead to 4-2. Brendan Buchanan tallied an RBI single on the first pitch from Cromwell, who had replaced starter Derrick Spring after Spring reached the pitch limit during the previous at-bat.
Brendon Hill tossed a complete game for the Mavs, holding the Chargers to three runs on six hits.
He gave up two runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles from Kael Richards and Cromwell, trimming the Mavs’ lead to 3-2.
In the seventh, Great Falls’ leadoff hitter Kael Richards capped a 13-pitch at-bat by reaching on an error. Brayden Welty reached on a fielder’s choice that included Hill committing an error in a rundown. Hill then got three consecutive outs to end the game, giving up a final run on an RBI sacrifice fly.
“Brendon Hill really battled all the way through and competed,” Hathaway said.
The Mavs will play five games at the Dwight Church Tournament in Lewiston, Idaho, from Thursday through Sunday.