MISSOULA – The Missoula Mavericks have known all year they would get a chance against the best teams in the Northwest. The American Legion Baseball Regional Tournament comes to Missoula for a second straight year, which gives the hosts a spot in the bracket. And the Mavs came close to making noise in the first round.
The Wyoming state champs from Cheyenne held off the Mavericks, 5-3, in the nightcap of the first round. The loss drops the Mavs into the loser’s bracket, while Cheyenne will play in the second round.
Missoula got off to a great start. A two-run double from Sam Bucy put the Mavericks up 2-0 in the bottom of the second. But Cheyenne quickly tied the game after a two-run base hit by Julian Pedroza in the top of the third.
Wyoming took their first lead after Braxton Innis flared a two-RBI single just over the shortstop’s head in the top of the fourth. Ryan Andren knocked an RBI single to center later in the inning to make it 5-2.
Cody Brooks kept the Mavericks in check most of the night, until he reached his pitch limit. The Wyoming starter struck out eight batters over 5.1 innings.
But after he left the game, the Mavericks put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Missoula loaded the bases with one out. Dane Fraser hit a sac fly to cut the lead to 5-3. Both runners advanced to second and third after a wild pitch. But Trey Trimble ended the game by striking out Parker Stevens.
In the other first round games, Yakima Valley, Wash. came back in the seventh inning to take down Medford, Ore., 4-3. Mountain View, Idaho came back for a walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh over Juneau, Alaska, 8-7. And the Montana state champs, the Billings Royals, held off a late comeback to down Waipahu, Hawaii, 11-8.
On Friday, Waipahu and Medford will meet in a loser-out game at 10:00 AM. The Mavericks season will be on the line in a loser-out versus Juneau at 1:00.
In the winner’s bracket, Billings meets Yakima Valley at 4:00. Mountain View and Cheyenne wrap up the second round at 7:00.