The Evanston Legion AA baseball team continued its nomadic ways over the weekend, traveling to Missoula, Montana for the Missoula Mavericks Memorial Tournament.
After dropping their first two games to teams from Spokane and Yakima, the Outlaws (21-16) rattled off three straight wins to close out the tournament with a 3-2 record. Manager Jason Mitchell said the weekend was a solid showing against some unfamiliar — but strong — competition.
“Things went really well, overall,” Mitchell said. “The first two games, I think we were a little intimidated — kids didn’t know if they belonged there, they thought they were a little bit outclassed. But after a bit, our guys realized they can play ball with anybody. Those last three games, we hit the ball well and played with confidence, and that helped us get on the winning side of things. It was exciting to see.”
This was the Outlaws’ first time competing at the Mavericks Memorial Tournament, and to leave Missoula with a 3-2 record will give the team a lot of confidence moving forward, according to coach Mitchell.
“Going into conference play this week with this kind of momentum is huge for us,” he explained. “The kids are striking the ball with confidence, and I think that’s going to roll over well into these conference games.”
The Outlaws opened conference play Tuesday with a twin bill at Rock Springs, and will stay close to home over the 4th of July weekend, scheduled to compete in the Firecracker Wood Bat Tournament in Salt Lake City.
Spokane Expos 4, Outlaws 1
The Outlaws opened play Thursday morning against the Spokane Expos, a team that went on to finish runner-up in the tournament. Left-handed ace Gus Allred pitched a complete game, allowing just four runs on four hits with five strikeouts, but Evanston could only manage three hits of their own, falling 4-1.
“We only had three hits, and there again, I think we were a little intimidated by them,” coach Mitchell said. “Gus Allred pitched super well — his pitch count was up in the 90s, so I think his arm is in a good place now. Our defensive play was rock-solid, especially against a team that is that talented. They went undefeated through pool play, and lost in the championship, so they were one of the best teams there. If we had hit with the same kind of confidence we showed at the end of the tournament, I think we would have given them a legitimate run.”
Clayton Moyles, Gus Allred and Jagger Mitchell accounted for the Outlaws’ only hits, with Moyles smacking a double and scoring a run to lead the team.
The Outlaws’ struggles at the plate continued Thursday afternoon against Yakima, as Evanston managed just two hits in a 9-1 loss.
“That game, same thing — we just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” coach Mitchell said. “You have to hit better than that to compete against those teams. Yakima was just a steady, clean ball team.”
Ashton Eldredge was saddled with the loss, but pitched well, allowing three runs on three hits (all earned), and striking out two in three innings of work. Caysen Smith and Quinton Elmer each pitched an inning in relief, combining to give up six runs on six hits.
“We started strong — Ashton pitched well, but we had to hold him to under 60 pitches, so that we could use him again on Sunday,” coach Mitchell said. “We were in a position to make it a competitive ball game, but with two hits, it’s hard to compete with anybody.”
Talen Critchfield led the Outlaws with an RBI single; Gus Allred had the team’s only other hit.
In their only game on Friday, the Outlaws broke out of their offensive funk, pounding out 11 hits in a 12-10 win over Centralia. Evanston had four players with multi-hit games, led by Kemmerer’s Clayton Moyles, who finished 3-for-5 with a double and 3 RBIs.
“We hit the heck out of the ball,” coach Mitchell said. “We looked really good at the plate. Unfortunately, we had five errors in that game — we kicked the ball around a little bit, and that allowed Centralia to stay in the game. I feel like we should have beat them by a few more runs.”
Derek MacDonald picked up the win in relief for the Outlaws, allowing three runs on four hits (one earned), and striking out two in two-and-a-third innings.
Jagger Mitchell got the start, giving up three runs on two hits (one earned), and striking out three in four innings of work. Caleb Gooding also pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief, allowing four runs on five hits (all earned).
Joining Moyles with multi-hit games were Mitchell (2-for-4, double, 2 RBIs), Talen Critchfield (2-for-3, double) and Ryan Baldwin (2-for-4). Hank Allred, Gus Allred and Gooding finished with a hit apiece, with Hank Allred driving in a pair of runs. Quinton Elmer and Jayden Schneider each had an RBI.
The Outlaws carried the momentum of Friday’s win into Saturday, riding the hot bat of Bodie Wicks to a 10-6 win over Centennial.
Evanston pounded out 14 hits against the Cannons, led by Wicks who finished 4-for-5 with 4 RBIs.
“Bodie Wicks was definitely the standout in that game,” coach Mitchell said. “His bat was just super solid for us, which was awesome to see.”
Kemmerer’s Caysen Smith picked up the win on the mound for the Outlaws, allowing just two runs on four hits (both earned), and striking out two.
“Caysen pitched the best I’ve seen him pitch all year,” coach Mitchell said. “He was dialed in, and just getting the job done for us. That was a nice win for him and the team.”
Joining Wicks with multi-hit games were Jagger Mitchell (3-for-5, 2 runs scored) and Talen Critchfield (2-for-4, 3 runs scored). Hank Allred, Gus Allred, Derek MacDonald, Ryan Baldwin and Smith collected a hit apiece, with RBIs by Smith (2), MacDonald, Baldwin and Jayden Schneider.
Lewis Clark 5
The Outlaws closed out the tournament Sunday with a 6-5 nailbiter over Lewis Clark, a game Mitchell called “Hands down, the most exciting game of the tournament for us.”
The game featured four lead changes, and ended in dramatic fashion — with the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh, Jagger Mitchell tripled (his second of the contest) to put himself in scoring position, setting the stage for a walk-off sacrifice fly by Caysen Smith to score the winning run.
Outlaws hurler Ashton Eldredge pitched a complete-game gem, allowing five runs on five hits (all earned), and striking out eight.
“That Lewis Clark team was a very solid ball club,” coach Mitchell said. “Ashton Eldredge pitched a phenomenal game — to hold that team to five runs was fantastic, to say the least. At the plate, Jagger had two big triples to open it up for us, especially in the bottom of the seventh. Caysen had an awesome walk-off, that was fabulous.”
Jagger Mitchell led the charge at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a pair of triples and an RBI. Hank Allred belted a double for his only hit of the game, while Gus Allred, Bodie Wicks, Caleb Gooding and Ryan Baldwin each collected a hit. Wicks led the team in RBIs with two.