Range Riders open Flathead Field with 9-4 loss
Glacier Range Riders starting pitcher Brock Knoten (20) delivers to a Billings Mustangs batter in the first inning at Flathead Field on Tuesday, June 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Glacier Range Riders' Sam Linscott (23) drives in Livingston Morris with an RBI single in the fourth inning against the Billings Mustangs at Flathead Field on Tuesday, June 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Glacier Range Riders' Livingston Morris (36) connects on single in the fourth inning against the Billings Mustangs at Flathead Field on Tuesday, June 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Daily Inter Lake | June 15, 2022 12:52 AM
It was rainy, it was cold and it was cut short by a third.
The first-ever home game for the Glacier Range Riders didn’t go exactly as planned, including the final score (called after six innings with Billings up 9-4). But the Pioneer League’s expansion team showed off a jewel of a yard to several hundred hardy baseball fans excited about pro baseball.
Quite a few of the firsts at Flathead Field belonged to the Mustangs (8-8), who had dropped five straight games coming in: The first run belonged to Billings leadoff back Crews Taylor, who walked to lead off the game.
Taylor came home on the first home run, hit by teammate Jackson Raper, with one out.
The gap grew to 4-0 on Jalen Garcia’s two-run single in the second inning; in the fourth inning Garcia hit another RBI single, and in the fifth he picked on a 3-0 pitch and hit a three-run wall-scraper of a home run to left.
That gave the centerfielder six RBIs on the day and put the visitors up 9-1.
Then, after Glacier pushed across three unearned runs in its half of the six, the umpires called a rain delay. It was raining; it had the entire game, but the all-turf field remained playable.
“Once the game starts, the decision of whether the game continues, and if the conditions are playable, is up to them,” said slightly miffed Glacier manager Nick Hogan. “If we played better, it’s a closer game and we have better ground to stand on.
“They were able to turn the double play and we weren’t.”
Billings did execute rally-killing double plays in the third and fourth innings. Mustangs starter Yasnier Laureano (2-1) issued seven walks, but none of them scored. Garcia’s second-inning single came with two out, and after Jordan Hovey’s double-play grounder to second was bobbled, resulting in only one out.
Glacier’s firsts: Livingston Morris got the club’s initial base knock, a single to lead off the fourth inning. He moved to second when Laureano, probably feeling the effects of the drizzly 43-degree conditions, dropped the ball on the mound.
The balk allowed Morris to scoot home when new Range Rider Sam Linscott singled to center for his first professional hit and RBI.
In the sixth Glacier (7-11) saw Morris get hit by a pitch to lead off. Then Linscott walked.
Austin McNicholas, another new Range Rider who lost his bat on four different swings in the rain, followed with a swinging bunt that Billings reliever Jean Correa threw away for a three-base error.
Two runs scored, and McNicholas came in on Ryan Cash’s groundout.
Then, perhaps surprisingly, the game was halted. The crowd had trickled down to several dozen by the time it was called.
The teams continue their three-game set Wednesday, in presumably much nicer weather. Eight new players have joined Glacier since Sunday, and the roster shuffling is bound to continue. (For one thing, Brandon Trammel, off to a promising start at the plate, is on the inactive list with a sore hamstring.)
Brock Knoten took the loss after allowing six hits, four walks and five earned runs in three-plus innings. He fanned four. Reliever Chris Allen was touched for four runs; Justin Coleman threw a scoreless sixth.
“It was tough conditions,” Hogan said. “But they had to play in the same conditions and they executed better in all facets of the game.”