Below is the article written for the local newspaper. These boys have to raise $10,000 for their trip and they leave next Tuesday July 30th.
The Mount Jumbo-Mullan Trail Little League all-star team is heading to the regional tournament in Vancouver, Wash.
The team featuring 13- and 14-year-olds from East Missoula, Frenchtown and Missoula closed out the best-of-three series against Great Falls-Riverside to claim the Montana Junior League baseball state championship Sunday at the Dale Clawson Complex.
Mount Jumbo-Mullan Trail entered Sunday leading the series 1-0, but Great Falls-Riverside forced a decisive third contest by claiming a 12-11 win in Game 2.
The hosts rebounded for an 8-7 state championship-clinching victory, earning a trip to the regional tournament.
“It means a lot,” Mount Jumbo-Mullan Trail manager DJ Taylor said. “It means we get to go play more baseball. We’re going to see some good ball down in Vancouver, so hopefully these guys will get to work next week and improve.”
Despite ultimately claiming the series, Taylor’s team squandered a chance to end its day early.
After falling behind 7-4, Mount Jumbo-Mullan Trail clawed back for an 11-8 lead entering the seventh inning of Sunday’s first game, highlighted by four runs in the sixth.
Great Falls racked up four runs in the seventh and Dylan Bleskin held the Missoula-area teens scoreless in the bottom of the frame to hold on for the one-run win.
“We didn’t want it that way,” Taylor said of his team’s knack for dramatic finishes. “We ended up letting a couple runs score that we shouldn’t have that first game.
“Plus, there were too many errors. If we get that tightened up, we’ll be a pretty good team.”
While Mount Jumbo would say it “suffered” the defeat, perhaps Great Falls would say it was a “wonderful comeback.”
“That first game was great,” Great Falls manager Tom Croskrey said. “The kids showed a lot. It showed the kids have a lot of willpower and that they wanted to play.
“It was pretty impressive the way they fought back into it and eventually get the win.”
First baseman Brayden Ginnady led the way for the visitors in Game 2 with a perfect 3-for-3 performance at the plate.
Leadoff man and shortstop Tyler Flink led Mount Jumbo on 4-for-5 hitting, finishing with three RBIs and a pair of doubles.
“Tyler Flink came out swinging really well that first game,” Taylor said. “He was hitting the ball hard and giving us opportunities out there.”
Game 3 featured a strikingly similar story line as Game 2, but with a different team winning in the end.
Mount Jumbo jumped out to a 4-1 lead through four innings before a six-run fifth pushed Great Falls ahead 7-4.
“We were feeling pretty good at that point,” Croskrey said. “But you can’t get too comfortable in these games.”
Croskrey’s comfort level sunk as Mount Jumbo rallied for four runs in the seventh – sound familiar? – to jump ahead 8-7.
Flink, who took over on the mound in the fifth, closed out the game to send Great Falls-Riverside packing.
“Today’s strategy was pretty much using our pitchers to the full extent,” Taylor said. “Andy (Brooks) was going to use all of his pitches, and (Derek) Potter and KJ (Swanson) were going to finish. But they were missing their spots, so Tyler (Flink) came in, did a great job and got us a win.”
Flink also had a hand in the game-clinching run as he reached first base on an error, which allowed Swanson to cross home.
“They came back fighting,” Taylor said of his team. “It was a hard game with a lot of errors, but these guys stuck with it and got it done.
“We won, mostly because of the team sticking together.”
Mount Jumbo-Mullan Trail has two weeks to prepare for Vancouver, where the team will play Aug. 2-7 for a shot the Junior League World Series in Taylor, Mich., Aug. 11-17.
“They are going to see some good teams and some good pitching there,” Taylor said of the regional round. “Hopefully these guys are ready.”