Class AA American Legion baseball
The Missoula Mavericks Class AA American Legion baseball team bested their rivals from Ravalli County, the Bitterroot Red Sox, 8-7 Wednesday under the lights at Lindborg-Cregg Field.
It's the second time Missoula has beaten Bitterroot this season. It was also the Mavs' third, one-run victory in their last four games.
"They're a great baseball team," said Missoula manager Brent Hathaway, whose club beat the Hamilton-based Red Sox 6-4 last week. "They might be in Class A ball, but if they ever chose to make a move they could compete quite well against the AAs."
On Wednesday, Bitterroot had its chances.
Trailing by a run, Red Sox leadoff man Kyle Melton singled to open the ninth. After a flyout, he stole second.
Missoula reliever Derek Dungan struck out Bitterroot's top hitter - Joe Franklin - who looked at an outside fastball. Next was cleanup hitter Kevin Lokken, who was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.
The steady Dungan got Lokken to ground weakly towards second. His slow roller was fielded by Dungan, who spun and fired to first to end the game.
"Every time we've put him out there he seems totally at ease," said Hathaway of Dungan. "It doesn't matter if it's a tight ballgame or if there's some separation. He doesn't get rattled."
Dungan, who earned his first save, set down the side in the eighth.
In the seventh, the Red Sox scored once with two outs to make it 8-7. Lokken doubled and Shane Fisk, who went 3-for-4, knocked him in with a triple.
With the tying run on base, Kyle Ihde grounded a ball to the gap in the left side of the Mavs' defense. Shortstop Jesse Ayala scooped up the ball and fired to first in time to get Ihde.
"Some of those plays get overlooked," Hathaway said, "but if we don't pick that ball up in the hole, it's a tie ballgame."
First baseman Taran Kahler and third baseman Adam Kerr led the way for the Mavs, going 3-for-5 at the plate. Kahler produced the eventual game-winning run with a solo home run in the sixth inning. Kahler, who's been in a slump since the season began, broke out with an RBI single in the first.
"We knew he'd come out of it and so we just kept giving him his at-bats," Hathaway said.
Kerr notched a triple, a single and a double in his first three at-bats. In his attempt at hitting for the cycle, Kerr flied out in his last two at-bats. The Mavs' No. 3 hitter flirted with the cycle last year as well.
Missoula starter David Williams picked up his second win of the season. The lefty gave up two runs in five innings of work. He struck out three and left the game with a 6-2 lead.
The Red Sox scored four times in the sixth, including once on a balk by Missoula pitcher Tyler Hoffman and another on a passed ball.
The Mavs play their first conference games of the season on Saturday when they travel to meet Western Division rival Great Falls Stallions for a doubleheader.
Missoula 8, Bitterroot 7
Bitterroot 011 004 100 - 7 10 3
Missoula 102 121 00x - 8 11 3
Joe Franklin, David DeSantiago (5), Brandon Tintzman (6) and Kevin Lokken. David Williams, Tyler Hoffman (6), Derek Dungan (8) and Carsen Bentley, Bob Henderson (8). W - Williams (2-0). L - Franklin.
BITTERROOT - Kyle Melton 2-4, Tintzman 0-4, Franklin 1-5, Lokken 2-5, Shane Fisk 3-4, Kyle Ihde 1-4, Jordan Mousley 1-4, Brett Henery 0-3, Jesse Gardner 0-2, DeSantiago 0-2.
MISSOULA - Blake Honey 2-5, Hoffman 0-5, Adam Kerr 3-5, Taran Kahler 3-5, Jesse Corbett 0-5, Mike Cooley 1-4, Ross Rabe 0-2, Williams 0-1, Jesse Ayala 2-3, Bentley 0-2.
2B - Lokken 2, Ihde. Kerr, Ayala. 3B - Fisk. Kerr. HR - Kahler (1). RBIs - Lokken, Fisk, Ihde, Mousley. Honey, Kerr, Kahler 2, Ayala.