MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula def. Helena 8-6
A 5th inning 3-run homer off the bat of Shane Olson provided the necessary spark as the 2-seed Missoula Mavericks managed an 8-6 victory over the Helena Senators in day one of state tournament action in Billings.
Olson's shot to left field give the Mavs a 5-2 lead at the time. Helena added two runs a piece in the 6th and 7th innings and the game was tied 6-6 entering the 8th frame. But in the bottom half of the 8th inning the Mavericks would take back control; Matt McHugh provided an RBI single and Slade Heggen delivered an RBI triple to put Missoula back up 8-6. Missoula went on to win by that score. Heggen, who has verbally committed to play baseball at the University of Oregon, finished the game 3 for 5 with two RBI's.
Missoula says Helena definitely came out ready to play today, hoping to knock off the two seed Mavs: "They definitely came out with a chip on their shoulder," said Olson. "I think it says a lot about our guys that we stuck together and we didn't get mad at each other. Heads didn't go down and we stayed up and stayed positive and kept going and we got the win."
"It almost sets a good tempo for the rest of the tournament for us," added outfielder Tanner Rheinschmidt. "Just knowing that we can come back and we can swing it with the best of them. So I mean it will be nice to have that one in the back of our mind."
Mavs starting pitcher Tres Cunningham picked up the victory for Missoula. He went eight innings giving up just four earned runs. Nathan Jewett pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record the save for Missoula. Missoula will battle the Billings Royals in winner's bracket action Thursday afternoon at 4:00.
Bozeman def. Kalispell 2-1
Base runners were at a premium in the 12:30 matchup featuring the 5-seed Kalispell Lakers and the 4th seeded Bozeman Bucks.
The first run didn't cross home until the bottom of the 5th when Conner Linebarger singled home Joel Thayer to give the Bucks a 1-0 lead.
The same combo struck again in the 8th when Linebarger drove home Thayer to make it a 2-0 game.
Kalispell made things interesting in the 9th inning. Tim Obermiller put Kalispell on the board with an RBI double down the left field line. Chris Combs raced all the way around from first base to make it a 2-1 game. The Lakers comeback fell short though as Rob Reaser grounded into the final out with runners on the corners.
The Lakers will take on the Billings Scarlets Thursday in loser out play at 12:30.