MISSOULA — The Missoula Mavericks and Kalispell Lakers went back and forth late in the first game of a double header Wednesday night.
The game lasted 2 hours and 43 minutes, 406mtsports.com reported, plus a 20 minute long rain delay in between the first and second innings when some heavy but brief rainfall came down forcing the tarps to come out.
Once back in action, the Mavericks made good use of some pitching gaffes and fielding errors by the visiting Lakers. It was close, about as close as a game can get late with a bases-loaded situation late in the bottom of the sixth.
The Mavs entered the bottom of the sixth down 7-5. Following an out from Zach Hangas, Connor Jordan opened with a single that rolled through a Lakers’ legs then Peyton Stevens got on with a single to left field.
Andrew Claussen hit a blooper that looked like a routine out at first, but the throw to first missed the mark — which happened a few times for a Lakers team that had five errors — allowing one run in to make it a 7-6 game.
The next batter hit into a deep out in center to stop the bleeding and keep the Lakers with a slight lead.
Then the Lakers walked the next batter Nick Bean to load the bases with two outs on. The Lakers walked yet another batter to force in a run and tie the game at 7-all with still two outs in the frame.
Then came Skye Palmer.
Palmer roped a line drive to left field to bring in his teammates at third and second and put the Mavericks up 9-7 with a two-out rally. The Mavericks ended the frame with four runs scored to rally back from the two-run hole.
The Lakers made things scary in the top of the seventh with a deep RBI double that cut the lead down to 9-8. The Lakers then got another runner on first before the Mavericks sent out their third pitcher of the marathon of a game in the first of two against the Lakers.
The Lakers grounded out as the Mavericks, albeit with a scary and high throw to first, ended the game with a comeback win.
“I knew that the last two games against the Lakers were close games — both of them were walk-offs,” Palmer said. “I just kinda knew it would be close and I was confident. Lots of curve balls and I was able to get on them but yeah I was confident. I knew it was a big moment we needed. … It was a long game and the quick rain delay didn’t help. In the end we stayed with it. After a long game a lot of time teams can just kinda give up and I’m proud we kept going and kept our heads in there for the end.”
The Lakers committed five errors, a few of which led to runs for the Mavericks. As a team Missoula had seven hits. Stevens led the way with two, both doubles and Dayton Bay also had two, both singles.
The Mavericks used four pitchers between Adam Jones, Henry Black, Charlie Kirgan and Alex Certel. Jones started the game and allowed seven runs included a two-run homer.
The Mavericks fell 14-11 in Game 2 to split the day with the Lakers. The Mavericks trailed 7-3 after five innings before a massive sixth propelled the Lakers to a 14-3 in the top of the frame. The Mavericks answered with four in the bottom of the frame and later Charlie Kirgan roped a two-RBI triple to make it even closer, 14-11, in the seventh.
The rally came up short and the Mavericks exit the day 15-19 overall.
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