Montana rallied from a five-run deficit -- and 6-2 hole going into the bottom of the seventh -- to defeat Seattle 9-8 in nine innings Sunday at the Grizzly Classic, one game after topping Maine 5-2.
The wins gave Montana a 5-1 record at this year’s home tournament and make the Grizzlies 14-2 on their home field since last April.
“We just have a really big sense of pride at home,” said Bethany Olea, the only senior on this year’s team. “A lot of teams are excited to play here because they’ve never played on a turf field. We want to show them that this is ours and that nobody is going to take it from us.”
The final game of the three-day tournament was the most dramatic. After spotting the Redhawks a 5-0 lead, Montana began its comeback with a pair of runs in the fifth. But the Grizzlies still trailed 6-2 entering the bottom of the seventh.
After a walk, single and walk loaded the bases with nobody out, the perfect situation emerged, with Montana’s best power hitter, Delene Colburn, facing Seattle ace Andie Larkins.
Colburn hit a home run to tie it — just not the way anyone would have predicted.
She sent one down the right-field line, which Seattle’s right fielder tried to charge in and make a play on. She came up short and the ball rolled to the fence, allowing Colburn to clear the bases and tie the score.
With the tiebreaker rule in place -- teams started any extra innings at the tournament with a runner at second -- Seattle used a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth to go up 7-6.
That looked like it might be enough after Katie Jo Waletzko was tagged out in the bottom half of the inning in a rundown between third and home, but Anne Mari Petrino was ready for the defining moment of her freshman season thus far.
With two outs and Gabby Martinez on second in the bottom of the eighth, Petrino smacked a grounder up the middle to score Martinez and extend the game to the ninth.
“That was huge,” said coach Jamie Pinkerton. “She struggled in the first game. Her bat just wasn’t on a good plane, slapping-wise. She was chopping, so I just told her to swing away in that situation.”
The Redhawks used a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly to take an 8-7 lead in the top of the ninth.
Olea walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth, which put runners at first and second for Colburn, but this time Larkins came out on top, striking out Colburn looking.
With one out, Ashlyn Lyons ripped an opposite-field grounder into left to score Sydney Stites from second and even the score.
With Olea at third and Lyons at second, Madison Saacke put the ball in play toward first base. A play was made on Olea at the plate, but she slid in before the tag with the winning run.
Montana has now won six of its last seven, with 19-6 Boise State coming to Missoula on Tuesday for a doubleheader at noon. Four days after that, the start of Big Sky Conference games, with a series against North Dakota.
“We’re taking this team into conference whether I feel we’re ready or not,” said Pinkerton, who lost his starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, MaKenna McGill, to an injury on Friday. Her long-term diagnosis has yet to be determined.
In Sunday’s opener, Montana jumped on Maine early and never trailed. The Grizzlies took a 1-0 lead in the first on a double steal by Colburn and Olea and three more times in the second, with Stites driving in two runs with a triple to right center that made it 4-0.
That would be all the support Michaela Hood would need to improve to 5-2. She allowed just five hits while striking out six for her fourth complete game of the season.
The Black Bears pulled within 4-2 in the top of the sixth, but the Grizzlies answered with one in the bottom on a Stites RBI single through the right side to make it 5-2. Stites would finish the game with two hits and three RBIs.
Hood put Maine down in order in the seventh.