The Missoula Pioneers have a chance to do something that not many other teams in the history of Montana sports can claim.
They have a chance to win an incredible sixth straight Senior Babe Ruth baseball championship on Friday at Kelly Pine Field in Bonner.
Pioneers’ manager Dwayne McCrudden is pleased with his squad’s performance this season and is optimistic about its chances to extend the streak.
“As long as we keep hitting the ball with consistency and maintain our focus I think we have a good shot,” McCrudden said.
The Pioneers are coming off a strong showing in the Mission Valley Firecracker Classic tournament in Polson, where they went undefeated in pool play.
They were slated to be in the championship game after only giving up three runs in four games, but it was cancelled due to rain.
McCrudden is very happy with how his team is playing when it counts.
Now all he has to do is impose a curfew on his players to make sure they get enough sleep because as tournament hosts, they play the early game on the first day.
“It doesn’t really matter who you play sometimes it comes down to if the kids are awake enough or not in the early game,” he said with a laugh.
The Pioneers (31-9) have been led on the mound this year by starting pitchers Kyle Booi and Dalton Gensch.
“Our pitching has been solid this year. We just need to continue to stay ahead in the count and help our defense out by getting pop ups and grounders,” McCrudden said.
McCrudden is looking to his other leaders, outfielder Ben Metz, second baseman Cody Oliver and short stop Greg Pfister, to help put the icing on the cake for the season.
Although they have only lost to one team that is competing in this tournament, the Mission Valley Rockies, all season, McCrudden knows that anyone can can win on any given day.
“It is tough to say who the favorite would be in this tournament because we haven’t played these teams a lot this year and it’s hard to know what to expect. But overall, I’m very confident in our ability to get it done,” he said.
All games will be played at Kelly Pine Field in Bonner, starting with the Pioneers squaring off with the Mission Valley Rockies at 9 a.m.
At noon the Missoula Frontiers will face the Helena All-Stars and the final game is at three between the Great Falls Hawks and the winner of the Pioneers-Rockies matchup.
It’s a double-elimination tournament with two games scheduled for Saturday and two for Sunday, if necessary.