Kahler hits grand slam
The Missoula Mavericks played well in all phases of the game Saturday as they took a Western AA doubleheader from the Glacier Twins in Legion baseball at Lindborg-Cregg field.
The Mavericks clubbed the Twins 16-2 in the opener, then came back with some clutch hits to win 10-7 in the second contest. Now 6-0, Missoula has scored at least 10 runs in five of its games.
"We were happy with the way the guys played," said Mavs coach Brent Hathaway. "I thought we swung the bat real well. It was a good day for us and we're happy with where we're at."
It didn't take long for Missoula to establish its offense in the first contest, jumping out to a seven-run lead in the first inning. With the bases loaded and two out, Adam Kerr, celebrating his 16th birthday, drove a Byron Banning pitch into the gap in right-center, bringing home three runs to make it 6-0.
Three Maverick batters were hit by pitches in the inning. Seven would be plunked on the day.
"They were a little wild inside," Hathaway said. "Our guys do a good job of not giving up the box."
In the bottom half of the second inning, Tanner Kahler made his presence felt. With the bases loaded and one out, the shortstop hit a towering grand slam over the right field wall for an 11-0 lead. Will Thompson added to the lead in the third inning with a two-run homer.
Missoula scored three more in the fourth, led by a solo homer from Kris Welker. There was a 30-minute rain delay in the inning.
Brad Waln, coming off a no-hitter last Saturday, pitched four innings for the Mavs, allowing two hits and one earned run.
The second game was much more competitive. With the score tied at 4 in the top half of the fourth, Twins' catcher Jake May hit a solo home run on the first pitch from Beau Walker to give Glacier its first lead of the day. The Mavs reclaimed the lead with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Glacier got out of serious trouble after a scary moment. Thompson, who hit the ball hard all day long, sent an absolute rocket off the back of Twins pitcher Cory McReynolds. McReynolds lay on the mound for a few minutes before being helped off the field.
"Will hits the ball hard all the time," Hathaway said. "Last year he hit me just like that in the batting cages. I know exactly how that kid feels. I don't even think he had time to react."
Thompson went to second base on the hit after the ball ricocheted to the shortstop, who overthrew first base. Welker then walked and Ryan Martin was hit by a pitch to load the bases. But the Twins managed to escape unscathed.
In the bottom of the sixth, with the score 7-7, Missoula got the big hits when it needed them. With runners at second and third, Brad Kerr ripped a single up the middle to score one. Thompson drove in another with a sacrifice fly and Welker doubled to left-center to make it 10-7.
"Brad Kerr had a big day for us," said Hathaway. "He came up big with runners in scoring position. That's always nice to see, who's going to be able to come through for you."
Kahler finished the twin-bill with six RBIs and Thompson had five. Kerr had four hits on the day.
"I thought we played well … for where we're at in the beginning of the year," Hathaway said. "We kicked a couple balls and made a few mistakes, but those are early-season mistakes. Overall, we played pretty well, and we're happy."
The Twins, in their first league games under new coach Ross Dorner, dropped to 0-3 overall. They got four hits from leadoff hitter Sean Newbury, including a double in each game. Shortstop Byron Banning went 3-for-5 at the plate.
Missoula hosts the Helena Senators next Saturday for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Glacier is at Kalispell at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Byron Banning, Sean Newbury (1) and Jake May. Brad Waln, Eric Guymon (5) and Kris Welker. W-Waln (2-0). L-Banning.
Glacier - Sean Newbury 1-2, Scott Corbett 0-3, Cory McReynolds 0-2, Byron Banning 1-2, Donnie Dulle 0-2, Brendan Banning 0-1, Tony David 0-1, Shane Salisbury 0-1, Jon McCubbins 0-1, Joe Sarasua 0-1, Josh Grant 0-0.
Missoula - Tanner Kahler 1-1, Eric Guymon 0-1, Brad Kerr 1-2, Will Thompson 2-4, Brian Moser 1-3, Ryan Martin 1-2, Brett Mitchell 0-2, Kris Welker 1-1, Adam Kerr 1-2.
2B - Newbury, A. Kerr. HR - Kahler, Thompson, Welker. RBIs - Kahler 4, Thompson 3, A. Kerr 3, Moser 2, Welker 2, Martin, Dulle.
Joe Sarasua, Cory McReynolds (4), Jake May (5) and Tony David. Beau Walker, Ryan Martin (5), Bryan Luke (7) and Kris Welker. W-Martin (1-0). L-May.
Glacier - Sean Newbury 2-3, Scott Corbett 0-1, Jon McCubbins 0-1, Cory McReynolds 1-3, Byron Banning 2-3, Donnie Dulle 0-1, Jake May 1-2, Shane Salisbury 1-3, Tony David 0-3, Joe Sarasua 0-0, Josh Grant 0-1.
Missoula - Tanner Kahler 0-1, Clint Cordial 0-1, Brad Kerr 3-4, Will Thompson 1-2, Brian Moser 1-2, Ryan Martin 0-3, Brett Mitchell 0-2, Kyle Slater 1-3, Ryan Keltz 1-1, Chris Welker 1-1, Bryan Luke 0-0.
2B - Kerr 2, Newbury, McReynolds, By. Banning, Br. Banning, Salisbury, Welker. HR - May. RBIs - Dulle 2, Salisbury 2, Kahler 2, Kerr 2, Thompson 2, By. Banning, Br. Banning, May, Cordial, Keltz, Welker.
(Greg Rachac can e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)