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Mariners give Loggers the axe in season finale

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LIBBY — Timing meant everything for the Mariners B team to finish the season on a positive note.

Six of the Mariners’ runs in a season-ending 12-8 victory over the Loggers in Libby Thursday crossed the plate with two outs in the inning.

“Timely hitting was key,” Mission Valley manager Chris Brown said. “We were finally able to drive guys in once we got them on base.” 

The Mariners’ offense that had been dormant in a recent 1-4 skid, which including a 1-0 loss to open the doubleheader against Libby, came alive in the nightcap. They cracked out 11 hits as they emptied out the Loggers’ bullpen – five different Libby pitchers took the mound in the seven-inning game. 

“They came alive. We were waiting for that to carry over from Deer Lodge and it finally did,” Brown said. “We got the leadoff guys on and were able to put things in motion.”

The win was a great way to end the season for the young team, which improved by leaps and bounds throughout the season, Brown said.

“It’s always nice to finish with a win, especially for a young team like that,” Brown said. “All they’ll think about are positive things going into next season.” 

With the victory, the Mariners had a winning record over the second half of the season. The Mariners finished the season with an 11-17 record, with most of their 11 wins coming against American Legion A teams. Midway through the season the Mariners had a 2-9 record.

Robbie Gauthier, who threw more than 100 pitches in the complete-game victory, capped off a three-run first inning for the Mariners with a two-out, two-run home run over the left field fence.

The Mariners added three more runs in the second to chase Libby pitcher Justin Wicka, who kept the Mariners A team scoreless for five innings in his last start. Shortstop Austin Von Tom and centerfielder Kevin Hagadorn each had RBI singles in the inning, and Jacob Young was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Hagadorn went 2 for 2 with two RBIs. Young, who went 2 for 2, drove in the Mariners' final two runs with a two-out single in the seventh. 

Gauthier, who scattered eight hits and struck out seven, struggled with his command. He hit four batters and walked two. Four of the Loggers’ eight runs were scored by Loggers who either reached base by walk or were hit by a pitch.

In the opener, Mariner ace Kellen Hoyt threw a one-hitter, but was still handed the loss. Hoyt hit Logger shortstop Chris Herbig with a pitch to lead off the third. Herbig stole second and advanced to third, when a pick off attempt got past Von Tom. Herbig scored the only run of the game on a one-out safety squeeze by Wicka.

Brown said that run just got bigger and bigger as the Mariners stranded runners inning after inning. The Mariners had five hits and left 12 runners on base, but could never solve how to score a run on Logger pitcher Eric Riddle.

“That was a tough game to lose, but a great game to be a part of,” Brown said, “(Hoyt) kept them off balance all game. He had great command of his fastball and his curveball didn’t have a lot of bite, but it was off speed enough that it kept them off balance. They had to respect his fastball because his placement was perfect.”

Three of the Mariners last four losses have been by two runs or less. Brown said that as his young team gains more experience, they’ll find ways to win the close games.

“That’s something that will just take time. They’ll get that killer instinct and be able to finish teams,” Brown said.

Summary

Libby 1, Mission Valley 0

Mission V. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0–0 5 2
Libby 0 0 1 0 0 0 0– 1 1 0

Kellen Hoyt and Jack Humphreys. Eric Riddle and Joe Coker. W - Riddle. L - Coker.

MISSION VALLEY - Jack Humphreys 1-4, Austin Von Tom 0-3. Kevin Hagadorn 1-4, Chris Clary 0-2, Dalton Molzhon 0-2, Cole McArthur 0-3, Kelley Hoyt 0-2, Bradley Pichler 0-1, Jacob Young 2-3.

Mission Valley 12, Libby 8

Mission V.3 3 1 0 1 3 2–12 11 1
Libby 1 0 2 2 2 0 1–8 9 1

Robbie Gauthier and Jack Humphreys, Jake Young (2). Justin Wicka, Alex Cislo (3), Zach Watson (5), Joe Cocker (7). W - Gauthier. L - Watson.

MISSION VALLEY - Jack Humphreys 1-1, Dalton Molzhon 0-1, Austin Von Tom 1-2, Kevin Hagadorn 1-1, Chris Clary 1-1, 

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