Missoula, MT.- The Missoula PaddleHeads put a bow on the regular season on Friday night in the series finale opposite the Billings Mustangs. Despite knowing what was looming in the one game playoff Saturday, Missoula would come out strong in the early innings to jump out to a lead. The
Missoula, MT.- The Missoula PaddleHeads put a bow on the regular season on Friday night in the series finale opposite the Billings Mustangs. Despite knowing what was looming in the one game playoff Saturday, Missoula would come out strong in the early innings to jump out to a lead. The Mustangs would show some fight down the stretch however knotting up the score in the later innings. With the game tied headed to the bottom of the ninth, the PaddleHeads would come to the plate looking for magic one last time in the regular season. To the delight of the home fans, Missoula would oblige.
With runners on at the corners Jared Akins would step into the box with two-outs recorded in the bottom of the ninth. Akins would hit a sharp grounder deep in the hole toward short. Brandt Broussard would field it cleanly on a backhand but would throw the ball low past the outreaching glove of Freddy Achecar to bring the winning run home clinching an 8-7 win for Missoula.
The PaddleHeads attack would come screaming out of the gates in the second inning after a scoreless first taking a sizable lead in the early going. 3 home runs would highlight the PaddleHeads effort in the frame leading to 6 runs for Missoula. Jayson Newman would give Missoula their first lead of the night hitting a two-run blast to right making the score 2-1. McClain O’Conner, and A.J. Wright would both hit homers as well in consecutive at bats later in the frame to make the score 6-1. O’Conner, and Wright would both finish the game 2-for-5 and Newman was 3-for-4.
Willy Freeman would keep the Mustangs attack in check for much of his outing in 5 2/3 innings. The former member of the Crimson Tide would allow 3 runs over those innings striking out 4. In one stretch from the second to the fifth, Freeman would retire 8 batters in a row to highlight his impressive performance. Despite that, Billings would find an answer offensively after Freeman would depart.
After scoring a pair in the sixth, Billings would tie the game in the seventh thanks to a four-run rally making the score 7-7. Jalen Garcia brought a pair home as part of the rally on a double to highlight the frame. Christian Sepulveda would then tie the game on a sacrifice fly one batter later. Garcia would enjoy a fabulous night in a losing effort finishing 3-for-4 with a homer and 3 driven in. It would not be enough however as Billings would not get another run across after the seventh.
After 96 games and 834 innings, the PaddleHeads concluded the regular season on Friday night. What a regular season it was for this Missoula ballclub who finished the regular season with an astonishing (65-31) record. Their .677 winning percentage ranks higher than any franchise across all levels of professional baseball. However, there is still some tasks that this club has on its list.
The first order of business involves a one game playoff between Missoula and the Idaho Falls Chukars (58-38). The winner will move on to the Pioneer League Championship Series, and the looser will see their season end. It truly will all come down to this. 9 innings to decide who will have a chance to play for a championship. Catch every pitch of the action from the Garden City on ESPN Missoula 102.9 F.M.
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