MISSOULA – The hosts didn’t stay in the American Legion Baseball Northwest Regional Tournament as long as they hoped. The Missoula Mavericks were eliminated Thursday afternoon with a 13-9 loss to the Juneau (Alaska) Midnight Suns.
The triumph is the first-ever victory for an Alaskan state champ at the Northwest Regional Tournament.
Both teams held the advantage at multiple points during the back-and-forth contest. Juneau took a 3-0 lead after the top of the second, but Missoula responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning. The Midnight Suns briefly tied it up at four in the top of the third, but another Mavs run in the bottom of the third put Missoula ahead 5-4.
Juneau loaded the bases with one out in the fifth but only scored one run to tie it back up at five. Missoula once again took the lead right back, walking in two runs in the bottom of the fifth to lead 7-5.
The top of the sixth proved to be the difference in the game. After an RBI single cut the lead to one, Phil Wall provided the biggest hit of the game with the bases loaded. The Midnight Sun second baseman dropped a double down the right field line that landed fair by about a foot. All three runners scored to put Alaska up for good, 9-7. The Midnight Suns would add two more runs to push the lead to four.
Missoula once again had an answer with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Juneau pushed the advantage back to four with two runs of their own in the top of the seventh. The Mavericks only put one runner on base before lining out to end the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Juneau now advances to another loser-out game at 1 p.m. Friday. Waipahu, Hawaii also eliminated Medford, Oregon 6-5 in Thursday’s first game.
In the late afternoon and evening second-round games, the Montana state champion Billings Royals fell to the Selah Pepsi Pak from Washington 7-6. Mountain View Idaho won a slugfest versus Cheyenne Wyoming, 15-9.