The Missoula Mavericks wrapped up their Memorial Tournament with a first place finish on Sunday after defeating the Billings Royals 5-0 in the championship game.
Missoula jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to an RBI single by Jesson Preston. That score would hold up until the fifth frame where the Mavs would tack on four more runs. The late rally made things more comfortable for Missoula to close out the game, however the sole run in the first innings was all that would be needed thanks to a dominant pitching performance by Missoula’s Anthony Hilliard. The ace gave up just four hits while going all seven innings on the mound for his Mavericks to pick up the win.
"Yeah it's definitely great to go 6-0, especially beating the Royals twice,” said Missoula outfielder and pitcher Josh Meader. “They're obviously a really good team. We swung the bat a lot better and our pitchers just threw strikes; that was a big part of the wins."
The four day tournament went almost flawless for the hometown Mavericks at Lindborg-Cregg field. Missoula went a perfect 6-0 with wins against the Casper Oilers, Spokane Bandits, Spokane 49ers, Great Falls Chargers, and two wins against the Billings Royals.
"I thought we played really well. We hit the ball well, played good D,’” said Preston. “They're (the Billings Royals) a great team so it's always nice to beat them. We all have the most respect for them and they're a great group of guys but it's nice to get the conference win."
Friday's win against the Royals was not only a conference victory for the Mavs, but it was the first time Missoula has defeated Billings since losing to them in last year's state championship game.
"It feels good to beat them,” admitted Hilliard. “It gives our guys the confidence that we can beat any team in the state.”
All told, the Mavericks outscored their opponents 46-15 at the annual tournament and have now upped their overall record on the season to 27-11. The team said that success definitely gives them confidence moving forward into the conference season:
“I think we need still need to keep improving so that we play our best baseball towards the end of the year at the state tournament," said Hilliard.
The Mavericks will next be in action on Wednesday, June 18 for another conference clash against the Billings Royals at home in Missoula. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 7:00 at Lindborg-Cregg field.