Life on the road has been pure bliss for the Missoula PaddleHeads this week.
Zootown’s Pioneer League pro baseball teamed topped off a perfect 6-0 road swing with a blowout win against the Glacier Range Riders, 12-4, on Thursday in Kalispell. The win was Missoula’s 15th in its last 16 games, boosting its record to 28-10.
The PaddleHeads pounded out 16 hits to five for the Range Riders (13-24). Glacier trailed by just a run after six innings, then the visitors exploded for three in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Missoula used four pitchers. Starter Mark Timmins went five innings, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts. Cody Thompson (3-0) came on in relief and earned the win. He pitched a scoreless sixth, then John LaRossa allowed one run in two innings of work and Nate Boyle allowed a run in the ninth before closing the door on Glacier.
The PaddleHeads had six players with multiple hits. McClain O’Connor had three, including a double, and scored two runs. Keaton Greenwalt had three singles and two RBIs.
Lamar Sparks, Nick Gatewood, Cam Thompson and Kamron Willman each had two hits. Both of Willman’s hits were doubles and he added two RBIs.
Key to the outcome was the Missoula seventh. Leading 3-2, the PaddleHeads pulled away with RBI doubles by Jayson Newman and Gatewood and a run-scoring single by Thompson.
Missoula will play host to Glacier Friday night at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 6
A first-inning explosion set the tone as the Missoula PaddleHeads won for the 14th time in 15 games Wednesday night.
Zootown’s Pioneer League pro baseball team put up seven runs before the Glacier Range Riders even had a chance to bat en route to a 12-5 win at Flathead Field in Kalispell. Missoula finished with 17 hits to five for the hosts.
With the win, the PaddleHeads (27-10) maintained their five-game lead over the Idaho Falls Chukars (22-15) in the North Division first-half race. That race will come to an end on July 17.
Brandon Riley has been on a major roll for Missoula. A day after collecting four hits in a win at Glacier, the second-year pro and former North Carolina Tar Heel collected three Wednesday. Teammates McClain O’Connor, Lamar Sparks and Cam Thompson also collected three hits.
Sparks, the reigning North Division Batter of the Week, had a single, double and triple and finished with three RBIs. Nick Gatewood hit his third home run for the PaddleHeads.
Missoula used just two pitchers in the game — a rarity for manager Michael Schlact’s squad. Domingo Pena (4-3) earned the win, allowing five earned runs on five hits with six strikeouts in the first five frames. Nathan Alexander was impressive in relief, holding the hosts scoreless and hitless for four innings behind four strikeouts.
Missoula’s first-inning scoring burst included two-RBI doubles by Thompson and O’Connor along with run-scoring singles by Sparks, Jayson Newman and Henderson Perez.
Tuesday, July 5
With wins in 13 of their last 14 games, the Missoula PaddleHeads are beginning to look even more dominant than last summer when they secured the Pioneer League championship.
That has to be a little scary for the competition.
On Tuesday night, Zootown’s pro baseball team earned its fourth straight road victory, overcoming a long bus ride from Boise the night before to beat the Glacier Range Riders in Kalispell, 6-3. Missoula boosted its record to 26-10 and its lead in the North Division to five games with the first-half race scheduled to end on July 17.
The PaddleHeads were sparked by strong pitching, with starter Austin Crowson (3-0) earning the win. The former Phillies farmhand allowed just two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, then relievers Dan Swain, Zach Torra and Cody Thompson held Glacier (13-22) scoreless in the last 3 2/3 frames.
Left fielder Brandon Riley had a big night at the plate, going 4 for 5 with four singles and a run scored. Keaton Greenwalt and Cam Thompson each had a triple and finished with two hits apiece. Thompson and Nick Gatewood shared the team lead in RBIs with two apiece.
Gatewood set the tone in the first inning with a bases-loaded single that scored Lamar Sparks and Riley. Jayson Newman scored later in the first on a sacrifice by Thompson and Missoula maintained the lead for the duration.
Glacier cut its deficit to 4-3 with a pair of runs in the fifth. The PaddleHeads responded with a Kamron Willman RBI single in the sixth and a Greenwalt sacrifice fly that scored Newman in the seventh.
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