For the first time this year, the crack of the bat was heard in the valley. Spring, and summer, sports had been put on hold while the world came to a standstill with COVID-19 restrictions in place. However, this weekend at the Bitterroot Bucs field in Florence, American Legion baseball played their first game.
The Missoula Mavs always host a Memorial Day tournament but this year, they were unable to secure permission for the tournament. They approached Florence to see if it would be possible to have the tournament there. The Bitterroot Bucs worked with the Ravalli County Public Health office and the COVID-19 task force to come up with a workable solution.
“They were very good to work with,” said Bucs’ coach Austin Nogel.
The dugouts were expanded for each team with half inside the dugout and the other half of the team outside in a designated area. Fans were encouraged to social distance, and they did. The normal banners around the field have not been hung up yet so people were able to sit in the outfield as well. The spectators were happy but the players were ecstatic to get on the field again.
“It’s so good to be out here playing again,” said Tyler Davis of the Bitterroot Red Sox. “We didn’t know if we would be able to play or not this year so this is great.”
The Bitterroot Bucs and the Bitterroot Red Sox took the field on Friday afternoon in the opening game of the tournament. As the Hamilton coach, Kallen Grenfell said, “any time the Red Sox and the Bucs play, it’s a good day.”
Normally the American Legion Baseball season begins in late April and by this time of the year have played lots of baseball. The teams were only able to begin practice two weeks ago with 10 players at a time. So it was understandable there were a few a few jitters in the first few innings.
The Red Sox scored six runs in the fourth inning with an RBI double from Mack Wright that scored Mitch Spinetta and Tristan Lewis. Tyler Jones hit another and an overthrow to first allowed another run in. As the inning progressed the runs kept coming for the Red Sox.
The Bucs had a chance to get on the board when Zach Christopherson hit a long ball to center field. But Wright made a diving catch for the out stop the play. The Red Sox went on to win, 9-0.