Class AA Missoula Mavericks manager Brent Hathaway wasn’t ready to make excuses for his ballclub Saturday afternoon after it lost an 11-6 American Legion baseball decision to conference foe Kalispell at Lindborg-Cregg Field.
The Western Division-leading Mavs showed little life in dropping their second conference game this season to the Lakers, falling to 10-2 in league and 34-19 overall.
Starting pitcher Matt McLean threw seven innings of seven-hit ball to earn the win for Kalispell (7-8 in conference). He allowed four runs – three earned – while walking a pair and striking out seven.
“We didn’t play to our expectations and I can’t find any reason for that because it’s a conference game and a big rival,” said Hathaway. “No excuses, though. They outplayed us, they wanted it more than we did and we got what was coming to us.”
Second baseman Nick Evans and left fielder Tanner Rheinschmidt combined to collect seven of Missoula’s eight hits on the afternoon. Evans was 4 for 4 with an RBI and Rheinschmidt finished 3 for 4 with three driven in.
But aside from the showing by Evans and Rheinschmidt and a gutsy 5 2-3 innings of relief work by southpaw hurler William Keffeler, there was little for the home team’s fans to get excited about.
“McLean is probably an above-average guy,” Hathaway said. “But I thought our plate discipline was poor. I just don’t think that we showed up to play today.”
The Lakers received two hits apiece from Kendrick Lee, Adam Frandsen, Charlie Obermiller and Jake Johnson. Cody Dopps had three RBIs and Dillon Eaves, Frandsen and Obermiller drove in two apiece.
Evans and Rheinschmidt each had run-scoring singles in the second inning to give the Mavs a 2-1 lead before Kalispell took the lead for good with a five-run third frame.
The Lakers sent 10 to the plate in the third and took advantage of five hits as well as two Maverick errors that spelled the end for Missoula starting pitcher Tres Cunningham (8-3), who took the loss.
A passed ball and run-scoring singles by Dopps and Obermiller made it 9-2 Kalispell in the fourth and the Mavs never got closer than a five-run deficit the rest of the way.
“Sometimes when our guys show up and they don’t have a lot of fire you kind of play it out and hopefully the competitive juices start flowing, you chip away and get close and eventually they’ll manage to dig themselves out,” Hathaway said. “Today what you saw in the first inning was what you got from us all day long.”
Missoula has a chance to erase the defeat from its memory when it hosts the Medicine Hat Moose Monarchs on Sunday at 7 p.m. in another conference ballgame.
“If we show up and play tomorrow that would be awesome,” said Hathaway. “But this wasn’t fun, this was embarrassing and we let ourselves down today.”
Kalispell 105 300 020 – 11 12 5
Missoula 020 000 202 – 6 8 2
Matt McLean, Dillon Eaves (8) and Kendrick Lee. Tres Cunningham, Anthony Contonio (4), William Keffeler (4) and Matt McHugh. W – McLean. L – Cunningham (8-3).
KALISPELL – Lee 2-4, Dillon Matteson 1-6, Sean O’Connell 1-3, Eaves 1-3, Adam Frandsen 2-5, Cody Dopps 1-4, Charlie Obermiller 2-5, Nate Bengston 0-4, Jake Johnson 2-5.
MISSOULA – Tanner Rheinschmidt 3-4, Alec Bouchee 0-4, Riley King 0-5, Shane Olson 1-5, McHugh 0-4, Nathan Jewett 0-3, Josh Meader 0-3, Nick Evans 4-4, Tanner Maier 0-4.
3B – Frandsen, Matteson. RBIs – O’Connell, Eaves 2, FRandsen 2, Dopps 3, Obermiller 2, Rheinschmidt 3, King, Evans.