MISSOULA — Former Billings Mustang standout Chris Eusay has proven to be a nice late addition to the Missoula PaddleHeads this summer.
In his first game in the Garden City Wednesday night, the infielder delivered a walk-off double in the ninth inning, lifting his team over the Great Falls Voyagers, 3-2. With the win, the PaddleHeads boosted their Pioneer League-best record to 58-30.
“It’s not every day that you get to make a statement on your first day somewhere,” Eusay said. “To get the opportunity to do it, and take advantage was incredible. Joining a first-place team with a winning culture has also been awesome. There is a feeling of confidence with this team that is just contagious.”
Both teams enjoyed strong pitching. Missoula starter Mason Schwellenbach allowed just one run on four hits with 10 strikeouts. Mark Simon came on in relief and earned the win, allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts.
Great Falls (38-50) broke a 1-1 tie with a run in the top of the ninth. But the PaddleHeads were finally able to generate some offense against Voyagers lefty Grant Larson in the bottom of the ninth.
Nick Gatewood singled up the middle to start Missoula's ninth-inning rally. After a walk to Dean Nevarez, Missoula had the winning run aboard. Newcomer Jacob Talamante sent a ground ball through the left side of the infield that drove in Gatewood to tie the game. Then Eusay laced his walk-off double into left center field.
Cameron Thompson's RBI triple in the first inning accounted for Missoula's only other run.
Schwellenbach's 10 strikeouts tied a PaddleHeads season high.
“We knew the Great Falls offense was hot coming into the game,” Schwellenbach said. “To be honest the biggest thing was locating well and executing the pitches that (catcher Dean) Nevarez called.
"All my pitches were on tonight which was nice. Our starters, and bullpen guys are attacking hitters right now. I feel like most guys are confident with what they are throwing. That is what we want as a team going toward the end of the season and a playoff run.”
The PaddleHeads and Voyagers played again Thursday night in Missoula.