Loggers chop Mariners in final home stand

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | July 29, 2020 7:59 AM

The Libby Loggers sent off their departing players right with back-to-back victories against the Mission Valley B Mariners in the final home games of the season on July 23.

In a strong start to the night, the Loggers mercy-ruled the Mariners in the fifth inning of the first game of the double header.

Defensively, Libby shut down Mission Valley. The Mariners were unable to score a single run and pitcher Rusty Gillespie threw a near no hitter. The Lumberyard thundered with the cheers of fans in the fourth inning when center fielder Tripp Zhang sent a ball soaring over the right field fence for a grand slam.

Libby took the game with a score of 19-0.

Between games, Libby shortstop Jeff Offenbecher said he was proud of Gillespie’s impressive pitching. Offenbecher, who is a senior, described the moment as bittersweet. while it felt great to dominate in the first game, he was sad to be leaving the Lumberyard.

“I’m going to miss it,” he said.

Libby fans celebrated the departing players in a short ceremony before the second game. One-by-one, catcher Trey Thompson, second baseman Alex Svendsbye, third baseman Moxley Roesler-Begalke, outfielder Chandler Bower, shortstop Quade Anderson and Offenbecher took the field with their families. They received balloons and framed player posters featuring their own likeness.

Announcer Jim Germany read a prepared message from coach Kelly Morford for each player.

“The coaches would like to one final time thank these ball players for their dedication to our program and for being all around great young men,” Germany read in closing. “Now let’s go finish this season right.”

During the second game, the Loggers stumbled through the first six innings, trailing the Mariners 7-3 by the bottom of the seventh. In a determined push, left fielder Tucker Masters drilled a ball over the fence, bringing Zhang and outfielder Landon Haddock home. The Loggers rushed the field cheering Masters on as he ran the bases.

Thompson batted in a run a few at bats later to tie the score.

The game went on for two more nail-biting innings until Offenbecher made it to home in the bottom of the ninth on a bunt by Bower.

The final score was 8-7 for Libby.

After the game, Bower said the final play was a great way to end his time with the Loggers. For Thompson, his last game playing for Libby had felt like any other until the game-winning run.

“Jeff scored there and it’s just like that’s it, it’s all over,” Thompson said. “It was definitely a great send off for my senior night and my last time being here.”

Masters said he was going to miss playing with the outgoing seniors. Leaving the Lumberyard until next year, even after the double victory, was bittersweet for him too.

“I’m just going to take one good look at it, take it all in,” Masters said, turning his gaze out over centerfield.

Many of the Loggers voiced high hopes for the district tournament, which begins on July 30 in Florence. Outfielder Kiye Jenkins said he thought Libby had a good chance of doing well. The sentiment was echoed by Roesler-Begalke, who thought Libby could be a dark horse team in the tournament.

“We’ve kinda been up and down all season,” said Morford. “Hopefully we’ll catch the tournament on an up and we can ride that to state.”

On July 25 the Loggers went on to defeat the Bitterroot Red Sox 5-4 and 12-6 in a doubleheader.

photo

Tucker Masters is all smiles following his three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning during the second game of a doubleheader versus the Mission Valley B Mariners on July 23. (Paul Sievers/The Western News)

photo

Second baseman Moxley Roesler-Begalke puts the tag on Mission Valley's Brock Henriksen as he attempts to steal for the third out top of the seventh inning. Loggers over Mariners 8-7 in the nine inning nail-biter nightcap. (Paul Sievers/The Western News)