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Mariners split doubleheader against Loggers in home opener

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POLSON – The coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2020 American Legion Baseball season finally got underway for the Mission Valley Mariners at Polson’s O’Malley Park on Thursday evening. 

Hosting the Libby Loggers in a non-conference doubleheader matchup, the defending 2019 Western A district champions came up a little short against the Loggers with an 11-9 loss in the first game, but they quickly regrouped and slugged their way to an 8-1 win in the second game.

In the first game, Libby jumped out to an early 3-0 lead over the Mariners in the first inning. The Loggers headed into the top of the third inning with an 8-5 advantage over the Mariners, after both squads scored five runs in the second inning. Holding the Loggers scoreless in the third and fourth innings, the Mariners scratched out a run in the third and scored three more runs in the fourth.

After falling behind 9-8 after four innings, Libby scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to take an 11-9 lead, which clinched the victory for the Loggers after three scoreless innings from the Mariners.

On the mound, Trevor Lake went four innings for the Mariners, allowing eight runs on five hits with two strikeouts. Mariner’s pitcher Ethan McCauley pitched three innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and one strikeout.

At the plate, Dawson Dumont led Mission Valley batters going 2-for-4, with two RBIs and a stolen base.

In the second game, after being held scoreless for four innings and down 1-0, the Mariners made four runs in the bottom of both the fifth and sixth innings to put the game away 8-1 over the Loggers.

Pitcher Xavier Fisher went the distance for the Mariners, allowing one run on four hits, while striking out six Libby batters and walking only one. Fisher also swung a hot bat at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and two RBIs. Dawson added an RBI triple. Dylan Davis, Eric Dolence and Lake each had doubles.

“I thought that the boys looked tired tonight,” said first-year Mariner Skipper Brad Fisher after the split doubleheader. “We have had quite a few games the last 10 days or so.” 

The Mariners recently returned home from a six-game road trip that started on June 3 and culminated in Boyd Nelson Memorial MVP honors for Mariner slugger Keyan Dalbey and a championship team trophy at the Big Bucks tournament hosted in Libby back on June 19-21.

With an overall record of 9-9, the Mariners look to move past the .500 mark as they host a double-header on Wednesday against the Kalispell Lakers with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. The Mariners will remain home the next few weeks as they take on the Missoula Mavs on July 3, the Bitterroot Red Sox on July 6 and the Bitterroot Bucs on July 8. The Libby Loggers return visit will be on July 14.

“I am glad that we have several home games the next couple of weeks,” said coach Fisher. “We are starting to gel as a team. Pitchers are improving on strikes, we have four players batting over .300 and, defensively, we are playing solidly and have been limiting errors.”

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