The Lovell Mustangs appear to be hitting their stride. The American Legion squad went 3-2 over the weekend at the Buffalo Wild Wings Tournament in Billings and could have been 4-1 if not for one bad inning against Sheridan.
They then clobbered Powell in a conference game 7-0 Tuesday night in Cowley (see related story).
Lovell opened the tournament by falling to Billings Post 4 13-7 on Thursday, then edged Miles City 9-7 later that day thanks to a seventh-inning rally. On Friday Lovell fell to the Sheridan Jets 8-7, outscoring the Jets 7-0 except for an eight-run fourth inning.
Placed in the silver bracket, the Mustangs went 2-0 on Saturday to win the bracket, stopping Miles City 11-4 and Great Falls 13-0.
In game one Thursday, Billings Post 4 was just a little too much for the Mustangs and quickly built a 5-2 lead after two innings, then extended it to 8-3 after three. Lovell scored two in the fourth and two in the sixth but Billings matched the runs and came away with the 13-7 win.
Juan Rivera took the loss for the Mustangs, throwing 1 2/3 innings, and Kaleb Snyder pitched the final 4 1/3 frames.
“They’re just a good hitting team,” Lovell manager Michael Jameson said. “There’s really nothing you can say. They came out and hit. Juan threw well.
“We couldn’t seem to get them out. They hit the ball everywhere. We played well defensively (two errors).”
Jeremy Schneider led the Mustangs with two hits and four runs batted in. Wyatt Horrocks also had two hits.
“We had just two strikeouts, so we put the ball in play,” Jameson noted.
After a loss in the 10 a.m. game the Mustangs played again at 3 p.m. against the Miles City Mavericks and were trailing 7-3 with two outs in the top of the seventh and final inning.
With their team down by four, Horrocks and Ethan Price drew one-out walks, and after a CJ Pickett ground out, the Mustangs were down to their final out. But Zack Keisel ripped a two-run single to make it 7-5 and Ethan Hessenthaler singled to keep the rally alive and Jess Wambeke drew a walk to load the bases.
With the game on the line, Dallen Mangus singled to plate Keisel and Hessenthaler, and Snyder walked to lead the bases again. Schneider drew a walk to force in the go-ahead run, and Horrocks singled up the middle to score Mangus with the sixth run of the inning.
“It kind of snowballed,” Jameson said. “We got a couple of baserunners and got some momentum. When we started to put a rally together everybody got excited. Zack and Dallen got a couple of big hits, and we could feel the momentum grow. It was a good come-from-behind win.”
Brock Hill picked up the win on the mound for the Mustangs, throwing six innings and allowing seven runs (four earned) on 10 hits and two walks. He fanned six. Wambeke got the save with one inning of scoreless relief.
One bad inning spelled doom for the Mustangs on Friday. Lovell had just scored four runs in the bottom of the third to take a 5-0 lead when Sheridan put together an eight-run fourth on five walks, one hit and four errors.
“We led 5-0 and were in complete control,” Jameson said, “but then it was the exact opposite of the Miles City game with us on the other end (of the rally)…You could feel the momentum shift. We kind of let that one get away.”
Suddenly down 8-5, Lovell scored single runs in the fourth and fifth to cut the deficit to one, but the game was called due to the time limit. Lovell out-hit Sheridan 10-2 in the game and might have completed a comeback if not for the time limit, Jameson noted.
Dallen Mangus started on the mound and pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Mustangs, allowing four runs, three of them earned. Pickett pitched an inning and two-thirds, allowing four runs.
Schneider and Keisel had two hits each for the Mustangs. Horrocks and Schneider each hit a double, Ethan Price a triple.
“Zack (Keisel) had an excellent weekend,” Jameson said. “He hit well over .500 for the weekend. We were very pleasantly surprised – and Ethan Price, too. They add a little power for us. Ethan Hessenthaler had a good weekend, too.”
Lovell outscored its opponents 24-4 on Saturday, first powering past Miles City 11-4. The Mustangs put together another big inning late in the game against the Mavericks. With the game tied 4-4, they put together a seven-run sixth to put the game away.
Schneider went 2-3 with two doubles and two runs batted in, and Hessenthaler was 1-2 with a double and two RBIs. Miles City helped the cause with 15 walks or hit batters.
Wambeke started and went 5 1/3 innings on the hill, allowing four runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks while striking out seven. Schneider picked up the win with a inning and two-thirds of relief, allowing no runs and one hit while fanning three.
“Jess came out and threw excellent,” Jameson said. “He’s not a guy who will overpower anyone, but he did a phenomenal job hitting his spots, mixing it up and keeping them off-balance.”
Lovell put the Great Falls Chargers away early in the final game of the weekend Saturday, plating eight runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 13-0 win. Schneider ripped a double after two walks, then Keisel and Price crushed back-to-back triples. Snyder added a single, Will Lillard an RBI ground-out and Horrocks a sacrifice fly.
Snyder finished the game 3-3, Pickett 2-3 with a double and two RBIs, Schneider 1-3 with a two-run double.
Juan Rivera picked up the win, throwing five scoreless innings in the game shortened by the mercy rule. He allowed just two hits, one walk and a hit batter while fanning one.
Following Tuesday night’s conference game against the Powell Pioneers (see related story), the Mustangs were already scheduled to host Rock Springs this weekend, but with the Billings Halos playing in the region, they have been added to the schedule.
Lovell will host the Halos for a doubleheader Friday at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., then host a triangular Saturday with Billings and Rock Springs. Lovell will play Rock Springs at 10 a.m., followed by Billings vs. Rock Springs at noon and Lovell vs. the Halos at 2 p.m.
The Mustangs are then scheduled to host Cody for a nine-inning conference game Tuesday at 5 p.m.