Miles City Mavericks make quick exit from state Legion Tournament

Star Staff

Scoring runs wasn’t a problem most of the 2017 season for the Miles City Mavericks.

But there definitely was a drought offensively and the baseball season came to an abrupt end for them as they were the first team eliminated from the State Class A Legion Tournament in Three Forks.

The Mavericks were beaten 5-1 by the Kalispell Lakers on Friday morning after falling 12-2 to Medicine Hat, Alberta, in the tourney’s opener Thursday morning.

By going 0-2, the Mavericks finished the season with a 25-20 record. It was their first trip to the Class A tourney after formerly being in the Class AA ranks, which they won in 1996.

The Mavericks, helped by two Kalispell errors, took their first lead of the tournament when they scored a run in the second inning.

Kip Krebsbach, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, got to third and scored on a bunt single by Matthew Regan with two out.

The lead could have been much larger, but they stranded five runners in the first two innings.

The lead didn’t last long. Kalispell smacked back to back doubles against starter Nathan Zard to tie it in the top of the third and had a chance to take the lead in the fourth when a potential rally started with a walk and hit batter.

But a double steal was foiled when second baseman Clay Prell threw out the runner coming home from third, the tag made by catcher Jess Bellows.

It stayed tied at 1 until the fifth when the Lakers scored four runs.

Four singles started the winning rally, followed by a walk, a double play and a two-run single.

Jess Bellows started as the catcher and then relieved Zard to start the sixth. Zard allowed nine hits and five runs, striking out three, walking two and hitting three. Bellows pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing no hits or walks.

Three Kalispell pitchers held the Mavericks to two hits, singles by Regan and Krebsbach.

After returning home, coach Jake Mills, who has a teaching job lined up in Idaho but may return if logistics can be worked out with the Legion board of directors, said his team improved considerably from start to finish.

“That kind of sums it up,” he said. “We founds ways to keep moving forward. We reached my expectations and went beyond them. It was definitely a building block toward next year.”

Winning the Eastern A District to qualify for state will have ramifications down the road.

“They got a taste of state tournament play,” Mills said. “They definitely weren’t looking for this season to end. They’s now looking forward to the season starting up again next year.”

Eight seniors were on this year’s team — Mason Dinardi, Jacob Swope, Matthew Regan, Deven Doughty, Brooks Tally, Reilly  Conley, Braden Marum and Jared Bellows. Only Swope and Bellows are young enough to return next season to join this year’s underclassmen.

“They started something they should be proud of, the seniors especially,” Mills said, adding that the coaches on the other youth teams have done excellent jobs as well.

“It was a huge step in the right direction for the organization,” Mills said. “It honestly was. Guys are energetic and want kids to play. From top to bottom, they did a great job.”

As for Mills returning, it’s in the hands of the Legion board.