With one swing of the bat, the Missoula Mavericks rediscovered their groove.
Will Thompson's two-run fourth inning home run brought the home team back to life as the Class AA Mavs downed the Class A Bitterroot Red Sox 9-2 in American Legion baseball action at Missoula's Lindborg-Cregg Field Wednesday night.
The early going wasn't pretty for the Mavericks. The Sox scored two runs in the top of the first as Duncan McKay's double drove in the first two Bitterroot batters of the game.
"It was tough to get started," said Mavericks coach Brent Hathaway. "But we hung in there and found a way to get it done."
To make matters worse for the Mavs, Bitterroot starting pitcher Ryan Curran was perfect for the initial two frames, needing just 17 pitches to retire the Mavs' first six hitters.
However, Mavs second baseman Pat Geraghty led off the bottom of the third with a walk. After Geraghty stole second base, third baseman Kris Welker's single drove him in for the first Missoula run.
In the bottom of the fourth, Brett Mitchell took first after he was plunked by Curran. That set the stage for Thompson, who blasted the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence.
Thompson's homer was the shot in arm that the Mavs needed. After a long weekend, featuring two doubleheaders in Billings, the Mavs took the baton and ran.
Missoula scored one more in the sixth and three in the eighth to ice the contest and earn the Mavs a four-game season sweep of the Sox.
"Its always tough the fourth time you face a team," said Hathaway.
Bitterroot didn't score after the first inning as the combination of Eric Guymon, Thompson, Will Ayala, Welker, and Brad Waln limited the Red Sox to just six hits in the nine-inning affair. Thompson's home run also helped his own cause as it earned him credit for the victory.
Offensively, the Mavs were led by Welker, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Mitchell rapped two singles to give him a 2-for-4 outing, and Thompson added a single to his home run for a 2-for-5 day with two RBIs.
"We didn't play great and we didn't play poorly," said Hathaway. "We've got this weekend to look forward to and I think we'll come out much more inspired."
The Mavs, who improved to 19-5 on the year, used the evening's contest as warm-up for this weekend when they play host to the sixth annual Maverick Memorial Day Tournament. Action will begin at Lindborg-Cregg Field on Saturday morning and will continue Sunday, with a Class A championship contest followed by a AA championship game on Monday.
The Sox were led by McKay, who was 2-for-4 with both runs batted in. Center fielder Kyle Melton also went 2-for-4 for the Sox, who dropped to 9-8.
Ryan Curran, Joe Franklin (4), Bobby Louviere (7), Aaron Olbricht (8) and Kevin Lokken, Joe Franklin (7). Eric Guymon, Will Thompson (4), Will Ayala (6), Kris Welker (7), Brad Waln (9) and Kyle Slater. W - Thompson L - Franklin.
BITTERROOT - Darren Olson 1-4, Kyle Melton 2-4, Kyle Ihde 1-2, Louviere 0-3, Richard Kraude 0-0, Duncan McKay 2-4, Shane Fisk 0-2, Olbricht 0-4, Lokken 0-3, Curran 0-2, Franklin 0-2.
MISSOULA - Welker 2-3, Ayala 0-4, David Williams 1-1, Brett Mitchell 2-4, Thompson 2-5, Ryan Martin 0-1, Pat Guffey 0-1, Slater 1-4, Pat Geraghty 0-1, Adam Kerr 0-2, Casey Cordial 0-2, Guymon 0-1.
2B - McKay, Olson. HR - Thompson. RBIs - McKay 2, Thompson 2, Williams 2, Welker, Guymon.