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Polson begins second season with two wins

by Brandon Hansen / For The Leader
| March 21, 2024 12:00 AM

A year after being the first Polson baseball team in school history and the first-ever state baseball champion in Montana history, the Pirates are ready for their sophomore season.

“Our expectations are that we are going to be pretty competitive and one of the better teams, but we’re probably not going to fly under the radar as much as we did last year,” Polson Head Coach Brad Fisher said of this year’s team.

The Pirates had a bigger turnout of players this year and will field 20 for a JV and Varsity squad with five seniors leading the way.

“Our philosophy will be the same,” Fisher said. “We’re going to show up and work. Last year, we got on a roll, and it worked out for us at the end of the season.”

Polson defeated Whitefish 10-4 in the championship game of the state tournament at 3 Legends Stadium in Butte last spring. This year, Fisher hasn’t foisted any expectations onto his squad.

“The goal is to relax and play and not be worried about wins and losses,” Fisher said. “If we go out and practice things and work on the things so we can be better, we will be competitive.”

Last year’s state championship hero Espn Fisher is back as a senior, after throwing 110 pitches in the final game, striking out nine while also posting two hits and three RBIs at the plate. Fellow senior Aiden Gfroerer also returns, as will impact junior Landon Shoemake.

“We have seniors with experience, and as far as the team goes, we told our guys they have a role and a job to do. If you all do your job, we can achieve things,” Fisher said.

Polson will have several players who can pitch. Fisher said they have four very solid guys on the mound that can pitch against any other team in the state and another four to five guys that can be set up or closing pitchers.

“We will throw guys in JV games and develop them and see if they can come up to varsity and give us quality innings,” Fisher said. “Early on in the season we have a pitch count, so that will be a little bit different from later on in the season.”

This year will feature more teams as high schools around the state begin to adopt baseball as a sanctioned sport. In the west, Bigfork, Ronan and Thompson Falls have joined the league this year.

The Pirates might have got a jump on some other teams in the state as their field cleared off its snowy cover sooner than others. While a bit chilly, Polson players got to actually practice outside, while some teams were delayed in getting out of the gym.

Fisher said one big thing he has noticed is how positive the team is when playing games.

“We stay positive about everything and we don’t get worried if a team gets runs,” Fisher said. “If we have errors or mistakes, and they’re going to happen, don’t worry about it, relax and have fun. They seem to be enjoying when you take that stigma away and go out and have fun.”

Polson wins state championship rematch

The result was the same against Whitefish on Friday, March 15, as it was last spring when Polson defeated the Bulldogs in the state championship game. Polson opened the year with a 15-8 victory over their Western Division opponent.

The Pirates were trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the second when they exploded for a 10-run rally where they went through the entire order and then some. Whitefish couldn’t make up the difference in the following innings despite 11 hits, and Polson pitcher Cason Graham picked up the pitching win.

That third-inning rally included six hits, a pair of walks, and two hit batters for the Pirates.

Holden Emerson, Cody Haggard, and Zak Muzquiz each had three RBIs in the matchup, while Aiden Gfroerer added two.

Polson finished with 13 hits as a team. Haggard also had a home run in the bottom of the second and two doubles in the game.

“We got some solid play this weekend. Gfroerer went four-for-four, and Haggarty hit the ball well,” said the coach. “Fisher was solid behind the plate and we’re excited about him – he just signed to play at MSU Billings.”

Muzquiz and Fisher both had multiple hits in the contest, while Haggard had three hits.

At Polson

POLSON 15, WHITEFISH 8

Whitefish - 01(2) - 212 - 0 - 8 - 11 - 4

Polson - 01(10) - 112 - x - 15 - 13 - 3

POLSON PITCHING - Carson Graham, Zak Muzquiz (5) and Espn Fisher. Winning Pitcher - Graham, Save - Muzquiz

POLSON HITTING - C Wadsword 1-5, E Fisher 2-3, W Wadsworth 0-3, H Emerson 1-3, C Haggard 3-4, H Emerson 0-5, Z Muzquiz 2-4, L Shoemake 0-2, A Gfroerer 4-4

HR - Haggard, 2B - Haggard, H Emerson, Muzquiz

Polson comes back against Belgrade

Polson followed up their state championship rematch by taking on the third-place state team from last year on Saturday, March 16. Polson came back in the last two innings to post a 10-8 victory over Belgrade on the Pirates’ home field.

“In our game against Belgrade, the strike zone was pretty tight and there were probably some strikes we didn’t get,” Fisher said. “I kind of like that because the kids had to focus and we had to work for those things.”

The game was tied 4-4 after three innings and 6-6 after four. Belgrade took a 7-6 lead in the top of the fifth, to which Polson responded by a two-run bottom of the fifth to take an 8-7 lead. Belgrade tied the game 8-8 in the top of the sixth, but Polson again responded.

With two outs, the Pirates had the bases loaded with Espn Fisher at the plate. Fisher put the ball into play and the Belgrade shortstop couldn’t make the throw to first. With runners moving because of the two outs, Zak Muzquiz crossed home plate as did Hunter Emerson.

Landon Shoemake picked up the save in the seventh and the Pirates improved to 2-0. On the mound, Fisher struck out four batters in two innings of work, while Cole Wadsworth struck out another three in three innings.

Wadsworth and Emerson each had two hits, while Fisher had a double and drove in three runs. Emerson finished the game with three RBI and a double.

At Polson

POLSON 10, BELGRADE 8

Belgrade - 130 - 211 - 0 - 8 - 4 - 5

Polson - 310 - 222 - x - 10 - 10 - 4

POLSON PITCHING - Espn Fisher (2IP:4K,1H), Cole Wadsworth (3IP:3K,2H) (3), Wyatt Wadsworth (1⅓IP:2K) (6), Landon Shoemake (⅔IP:1K) (7) and Holden Emerson, (3) E.Fisher (3). Winning Pitcher - W. Wadsworth (1-0). Save - Shoemake

POLSON HITTING - C.Wadsworth 2-4, E.Fisher 1-2, W.Wadsworth 0-4, Ho.Emerson 2-4, Cody Haggard 0-3, Aiden Gfroerer 0-3, Zak Muzquiz 1-3, Shoemake 0-2, Cason Graham 1-3, Hunter Emerson 1-1.

2B – E.Fisher, Ho.Emerson. RBIs – E.Fisher 3, Ho.Emerson 3, Z.Muzquiz, Shoemake. SH – Hazen; Shoemake.

    Pirate pitcher George Wyman opens season last Friday against Whitefish Bulldogs. (Bob Gunderson photo)
 
 
    Pirate Wyatt Wilson tags out Belgrade runner on second during Saturday's matchup. (Bob Gunderson photo)
 
 
    Coach Brad Fisher talks to son Espn on first base. (Bob Gunderson photo)