The Mission Valley Mariners are one win away from clinching the Western A District American Legion baseball title after blowing out the Libby Loggers 14-1 Saturday at Lindborg-Cregg Field.
The game ended in the seventh on the 10-run margin rule.
Mission Valley advanced to the district championship game on Sunday at 3 p.m against the winner of the noon game between the Bitterroot Bucs and Libby. Both teams in the title game receive berths in the state tournament regardless of the outcome as the top two teams from all districts qualify.
The Bucs stayed alive with a 15-2 win over Glacier in Saturday’s late game.
Mariners’ starting pitcher Justin Evertz put the team on his back defensively, tossing a one-hitter in a complete-game performance. Evertz also struck out 11 batters.
Mission Valley manager Jami Hanson said he was happy with how his squad performed, but that there is still room for improvement.
“I don’t think we’ve even played as well as we can yet,” Hanson said. “But Justin (Evertz) threw an outstanding game and we had a lot of quality at-bats.”
After going down in order in the first inning, the Mariners exploded in the second, scoring eight runs.
Jack Humphreys knocked in Chris Clary on a single and the Mariners capitalized on a Libby error to score two more.
Dalton Molzhon, Zeke Webster-Yaqui, Robbie Gauthier and Clary also drove in runs in the second to give Mission Valley an early 8-0 lead.
Clary finished 3 for 4 at the plate with two batted in.
The Mariners scored three runs apiece in the fourth and sixth innings, again led by the bats of Clary and Humphreys.
Humphreys said he agreed with his coach that the M’s are capable of playing even better, but that he was happy with his day at the plate.
“I don’t think as a team we’ve peaked yet,” Humphreys said. “But I’ve been trying to focus harder on driving through the ball better and it all just came together out there today.”
The Loggers plated their lone run in the sixth when Will Reichel scored on a passed ball by the M’s.
Micah Germany singled in the seventh to break up Evertz’s no-hitter, but Oliver Grupenhoff grounded into a double play and the M’s were able to close out the contest on the Loggers’ next at-bat.
Hanson said his team has to eliminate the little mistakes if it is going to win on Sunday.
“We have to cut down on our walks and keep making the routine plays on defense because if you don’t it can come back to bite you,” he said.
Libby 000 001 0 – 1 1 4
Miss. Valley 080 303 x – 14 15 2
Micah Germany, Andrew Haggerty (3), Nic Robertson and Oliver Grupenhoff. Justin Evertz and Jack Humphreys. W – Evertz. L – Germany.
Bitterroot Bucs 22, Kootenai Valley 1
Sage Hansen smacked a grand slam and finished the game with five RBIs in the Bucs’ rout of the Rangers in a loser-out game.
Tyler Thorson was 4 for 5 with a triple and a two-run double. He finished with four RBIs. Dylan Reed, Kadin Beller and Justin Medlin all added two hits. Medlin drove home three.
Tommy Shepard got the win in relief of Noah Baney.
K. Valley 0 00 001 0 – 1 3 6
Bucs (14)62 000 x – 22 13 3
Bryton Guckenberg, R.J. Glover (1), Austin Perez (2) and Kade Davis, Galen Sullivan (2). Noah Baney, Tommy Shepard (3) and Kadin Beller. W – Shepard (5-2). L – Guckenberg.
Glacier 11, Missoula 10
The Glacier Twins scored three runs in the ninth to stun the Missoula Mavericks in the second elimination game of the day.
Robert Reasor went 3 for 5 for the Twins and drove in three runs.
Trevor Turgeson knocked in two in the ninth on a single and Nakia Alexander had a sacrifice fly to put Glacier on top.
Glacier 011 100 503 – 11 11 3
Missoula 311 040 000 – 10 11 5
James Ratzlaff, Austin Robbins (2), Nakia Alexander (5) and Zac Darling. Trevor Dickey, Trevor Cunningham (7), Jackson King (7) and Ian Descamps. W – Alexander. L – King
Bitterroot Bucs 15, Glacier 2
Riley Phillips was 3 for 4 with three RBIs to help the Bitterroot Bucs stay alive in the losers’ bracket.
Brad Schaff was 2 for 2 with an RBI, Austin Nogle smacked a two-run double and Tyler Thorson was 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Bucs.
Noah Baney worked the first four innings to improve to 10-3.
Jayce Fagerland was 3 for 3 for Glacier.
Glacier 101 000 0 – 2 10 3
Bucs 408 300 x – 15 11 3
Brandon Maason, Bret Almos (3), Austin Robbins (4) and Zach Darling. Noah Baney, Tommy Shepard (5) and Kadin Beller. W – Baney (10-3). L – Maason.