MISSOULA — For the first time in the history of Missoula pro baseball, an extra-inning game was decided by a home run derby Sunday night.
It's a new rule implemented this winter by the Pioneer League. The Missoula PaddleHeads and Boise Hawks were tied 6-6 after nine frames at Ogren-Allegiance Park.
The Hawks went first and slugger Christian Funk failed to hit the ball out of the park in 10 pitches. The PaddleHeads went next and Jared Akins smacked the seventh pitch delivered by assistant coach Mason Pryzbilla over the right field fence. The final score went down as Missoula 7, Boise 6.
It marked only the second time in Pioneer League history the derby format was used. Missoula stretched its win streak to five games and maintained its three-game lead in the Northern Division.
Missoula scored on a Brandon Riley RBI single in the third inning and added two runs in the fifth, one coming on a Clay Fisher home run. Cameron Thompson added an RBI single in the sixth for the hosts, but the play proved costly when the PaddleHeads best hitter, Zac Almond, pulled his hamstring running home. Akins drove in the tying run in the seventh.
On Saturday, Almond hit for the cycle in sparking Missoula to a 17-8 home win over the Boise Hawks in front of a large crowd.
Almond came to the plate in the sixth inning needing only a triple to complete the cycle. A towering fly ball off his bat carried into the deepest part of the ballpark in right center field and he turned it into a three-bagger.
“It did not click into my mind that I was a triple short of the cycle until an inning or so after I homered in the third,” Almond said. “I knew I probably would have to hit it to the 409 sign in right center to have a shot at a triple, and luckily I did. I was so happy to learn I would be coming back to Missoula. I love this beautiful park, and all the support of the fans. Baseball is a tough game and I just play to have fun.”
Seven other Missoula hitters finished with at least two hits in the game to continue the offense’s torrid pace.