Garrett Boulware played 61 games at Clemson this past spring, helping the Tigers reach the NCAA tournament for the 27th time in the last 28 years. Sunday’s game at Dehler Park — a 6-4 Mustangs victory — was his 21st this summer in Billings.
That’s 82 games since February — six more than the length of a given Pioneer League season. Boulware is part of a three-man catching rotation that also includes Shed Long and Jose Duarte, and that means there are more days off than normal. But those are taken cordially.
“It’s been a long year,” said Boulware, 21. “I don’t completely hate my days off sometimes. There are definitely days that I’d love to play. It’s harder to get in a rhythm at the plate — the more reps you have the better you get. But I’m getting a nice mix of it right now.”
Boulware spearheaded Sunday’s win, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs. He’s now hitting .286 (22 for 77) and has driven in 15 runs, fourth-most on the team. Defensively, the Anderson, S.C., native has a .977 fielding percentage, tops among qualifying Pioneer League catchers.
Boulware had an interesting start to the day when he noticed the area behind the plate was still damp after the grounds crew prepared the field. And after Tyler Shryock stole second on him in the first inning, workers took a few minutes to patch it up.
“I just sat there and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s extra-soft today,’” Boulware said. “Then I looked down and my foot was covered in mud. I was trying not to complain, but when (Shryock) stole, my foot got stuck and I just threw it from my knees. But they fixed it and it was great afterwards.”
“I looked back there and I saw where Garrett’s feet were. It was just like a pigpen,” Schofield said. “It was just a matter of getting some (dry dirt) on there and getting after it.”
With the victory, the Mustangs won the three-game series with Great Falls and evened their second-half record at 1-1.
KEY MOMENT: The Voyagers fell apart defensively in the third inning, both with physical and mental errors, and the Mustangs made them pay. Boulware’s two-strike, two-out double scored Cory Thompson and Taylor Sparks for a 4-0 lead. “He jammed me with a fastball but I just put it where they weren’t. It worked out in our favor.” Ty Washington also stole home as part of a double-steal. Great Falls was charged with three errors in the inning.
ON THE MOUND: Mustangs starter Tejay Antone went 3 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season. He departed in the fourth with a five-run lead, and was eventually charged with two earned runs. Brennan Bernardino got five outs to pick up his fourth save. Bernardino still hasn’t given up an earned run in 16 innings.
AT THE PLATE: Zach Fish is probably reluctant to leave Billings. Great Falls’ Fish, an Oklahoma State product, homered for the second straight game, launching a solo shot on to 10th Avenue beyond left field. Fish hit .545 (6 for 11) in the series.
ON DECK: The Mustangs have two games left on their homestand, both against Helena. The Brewers invade Dehler Park on Monday at 7 p.m.