The Missoula Mavericks broke out the big bats for their opener in the Firecracker Tournament Wednesday at Fitzgerald Stadium in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Missoula broke a scoreless tie with a pair of runs in the fourth and then proceeded to bury the Premier West U18 Cardinals of Arvada, Colorado, 9-0, in the first game of the tourney. The game was called via mercy rule after six innings.
Missoula (14-12) piled up four hits in the first two frames but failed to push across a run. It turned out to be a preview of good things to come.
The Mavericks broke through against the outmanned Cardinals (9-17) in the fourth. Bridger Johnson hit a one-out single, stole second and scored on a Charlie Kirgan double. Kirgen later scored on a bad hop base hit by Connor Jordan.
The Mavs poured it on in the fifth. Dane Fraser followed Ayden Markovich's stand-up triple with a two-run, wind-aided home run to left. Johnson and Kirgan added RBI doubles and Kirgan came in to score on a double steal.
Missoula added two more runs in the top of the sixth. Fraser drew a walk and scored on an error and Drew Stensrud plated the final run on a Kirgan sacrifice fly.
Zach Hangas earned the pitching win. He struck out five and allowed just two hits in five innings of duty. Alex Certel pitched the sixth for Missoula.
Markovich, Johnson, Kirgan and Jordan led the Missoula hit parade with two hits apiece. Kirgan collected three RBIs.
The Mavericks will play their second game of the tournament Thursday at noon. They will face a team from Gillette, Wyoming.
Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 14 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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