MISSOULA – The Mavericks fell two outs short of history.
The Montana state champs went to the bottom of the ninth leading the Northwest Regional championship game in their home town, but Lewiston, Idaho scored twice to steal the title.
After a single and a sacrifice bunt to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Luke White doubled to bring in a run and tie the game 5-5. Mavericks starter Ryan McHugh then gave up an intentional walk, and a single to load the bases with only one out. Relief pitcher Danny Robinson slapped a single to left, bringing in White with the winning run.
Lewiston celebrated its first regional title and berth in the Legion Baseball World Series since 2001, while they prevented the Mavericks from achieving the same feat for the first time ever. The Mavs were hoping to be the first Montana team to advance to the World Series since Billings in 1962. But even just minutes after the loss he called “demoralizing,” Mavs star outfielder/pitcher Nick Yovetich could smile about the run.
“It’s been a great two weeks,” said the senior heading to the University of San Francisco next year. “We can kind of walk out heads high. We made it to the 16 best teams in the country, and we’re state champs, too, so not a whole lot to hang our heads on.”
“I’m really proud,” added catcher Spencer Schock, who went 4-for-5 with three RBI in the championship game. “We came into the Regional not expecting a whole lot. We got all the way to the championship, and (our) team just fought every little bit. I’m extremely proud.”
The Twins’ triumph was their second 6-5 victory over the Mavs in less than 24 hours. Lewiston stayed alive in the tournament and handed Missoula its first loss of the week in a 15-inning marathon Saturday night.
And the rematch in the championship remained equally tight. Schock provided the first two-run lead of the night. The Mavericks catcher hit a two-run double in the top of the eighth, giving Missoula a 5-3 lead. Jackson Fuller responded with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth that brought the Twins back within one, and set up the drama in the ninth.
Lewiston struck first on a solo home run by Jaden Phillips in the bottom of the second. Schock quickly tied the game with an RBI single in the third, only to see the Twins take the lead back on an Alex Light run-scoring single in the bottom of the third.
The Mavericks took their first lead in the top of the fifth thanks to a couple Twins miscues, some of the only mistakes made in the 24 innings the two teams played against each other over the weekend. Drew Leonard scored on a wild pitch, and then a Brendan Buchanan fly ball to right was dropped by Chase Adkison, allowing Missoula to jump in front 3-2.
The Twins tied the game once again on a sac fly in the bottom of the sixth.
AJ Davis kept the Mavs bats in check for most of the night. His seven and two thirds innings, plus a .500 batting average of the tournament earned Davis the Regional MVP award.