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Early Spark from Offense Leads PaddleHeads Past Chukars

June 23, 2022 - Pioneer League (PL) - Missoula PaddleHeads News Release

Idaho Falls, ID - The Missoula PaddleHeads looked to build upon a solid performance in game 2 of the series opposite the Idaho Falls Chukars on Wednesday evening at Melaleuca Field. The PaddleHeads offense set the tone over the course of the first two frames in the first game of the series and would never give up the lead after that point. Missoula would use the same blueprint on Wednesday.

For the second consecutive night, the PaddleHeads would tally 6 runs over the first two innings to jump out to a 6-1 advantage to take control. Idaho Falls would then be held in check offensively for a large portion of the action by starter Nick Merkel who earned his third win in as many starts in Missoula's 10-6 win over the Chukars. With the win, the PaddleHeads also are tied with Idaho Falls for the lead atop the Northern Division Standings in the Pioneer League.

Missoula wasted no time offensively jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Nick Gatewood would bring in the first two runs of the frame on a single that scored Brandon Riley, and Cameron Thompson. Keaton Greenwalt would then bring home a pair in the frame on a double which gave Missoula a 4-0 advantage. Missoula has found success in the first in each of the last two games scoring 6 runs combined. Gatewood would finish 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and 2 RBIs while Greenwalt was 1-for-4.

Kamron Willman would keep the offense going in the second inning, launching a double to left center to bring home Kevin Whatley to extend Missoula's lead. Thompson would then bring home Willman on a single up the middle to give Missoula a 6-1 advantage. Wilman has been fabulous in his first 3 games as a professional finishing 5-for-11 at the plate in that span with 6 RBIs. Willman finished 1-for-4 Wednesday.

Merkel did well keeping the Chukars at bay for the majority of the night in 5 '..." innings pitched after receiving early offensive support. The Spokane native would scatter 5 hits over those innings allowing just 1 earned run while striking out 4. Merkel has made it into the fifth inning in each of his 3 starts with Missoula while also earning the win in each of those outings.

After being held scoreless from innings six through eight, Thompson would give the PaddleHeads a little breathing room in the ninth hitting a solo home run to make the score 9-4.

The home run for Thompson would put an exclamation point on a solid night for the Kansas State product who would finish 2-for-4 with 3 runs scored and a pair of RBIs.

The win for the PaddleHeads (16-9) brought Missoula level with Idaho Falls (16-9) in the race for the top spot in the Northern Division Standings in the first half. The Great Falls Voyagers (16-10) are also in the hunt trailing Missoula, and Idaho Falls by a ½ game. The PaddleHeads will now look to pick up their first road sweep of the season in the series finale opposite the Chukars on Thursday night. Action from Melaleuca Field is set to get under way at 7:05 p.m.

Hear the action on ESPN Missoula 102.9 F.M.

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