MISSOULA — Missoula Mavericks pitcher Brendon Hill wasn’t fazed by having to wait out a rain delay before Sunday’s game.
Hill responded from the delay of one hour, 59 minutes by throwing a two-hitter and getting late help from his offense in an 8-0, five-inning win against Coeur d’Alene in the Mavs’ own Memorial Day American Legion baseball tournament at Ogren-Allegiance Park.
Missoula (14-11) improved to 2-1 in the tournament and will play Great Falls at 3:30 p.m. Monday, with a win guaranteeing them a trip to the title game.
“(First baseman Zach) Hangas actually came up to me and goes, ‘This sucks to pitch in.’” Hill recalled after the game. “I was like, ‘Well, why?’ He goes, ‘Well, you’ve been sitting around all day.’ I was like, ‘Well, I was sitting around all day anyway, so it’s no different. Might as well go out there and play.’”
The teams came together before the game, spending about 30 minutes putting down dirt on the infield to make the surface playable after heavy rains left numerous puddles of water. Soon after, that teamwork turned into competition at 7:59 p.m., when the regularly scheduled 6 p.m. game got underway.
Hill limited Coeur d’Alene to two hits and two walks on 66 pitches in five innings. He had a no-hitter going until Alex Karas broke it up with a one-out double to left field in the fourth inning.
With the Mavs leading 1-0 in the top of the fifth, Hill picked off Breyson Coppess at third base with runners on the corners and one out. Hill threw to third baseman Kaden Heidrick, who threw to catcher Tradd Richardson, who threw back to Hill at third base to tag out the runner.
“I felt like I was throwing my fastball and change-up consistently at the beginning for a strike pretty well,” Hill said. “At the end, I was a little rough on my change-up, leaving it up a bit, so they were hitting that more. At the beginning, it was definitely living low with the fastball and change-up.”
The Mavs blew open the game with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth off of starting pitcher Jake Brown and reliever Bode Bailey. Richardson, who caught a runner trying to steal second base earlier in the game, gave the Mavs a 3-0 lead with a two-run bloop single to right field. Hangas drew a bases-loaded walk, Richardson scored on a wild pitch, Dayton Bay came up with a two-run single to left field and Bridger Johnson clobbered an RBI double to center field to end the game via the 8-run rule.
Dane Fraser had put the Mavs up 1-0 in the third inning by singling home Bay from second base with a one-out chopper to center field. Fraser had nearly given the Mavs the lead in the first inning but was thrown out at home by left fielder Landen Thompson after he tagged up on Drew Stensrud’s flyout. Before that double play to end the inning, Missoula had runners on second and third with one out in the frame after Richardson’s double.
The Mavs stranded Beau King at third base to end the second inning when Stewart Long lined out to shortstop Marcus Manzardo. King had reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second base and advanced to third on an error by the catcher during his delayed steal attempt.