Four batters into the second inning, Medicine Hat substituted its starting pitcher. Wyatt Study held Bozeman scoreless in the opening frame but failed to record an out in the next.

In came Connor Drever with the bases loaded. But he struggled even further. Eleven straight Bucks stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. Each batter did his part to contribute to Bozeman’s lead, which swelled to 12.

Batters typically gained an early lead in the count and forced Drever to throw a pitch over the plate. Once that happened, the Bucks capitalized en route to a dominant 18-1 win in five innings over the Moose Monarchs on Thursday afternoon at Heroes Park.

“Every hitter knew they were going up there to get their pitch,” said Finn Snyder, who scored a run, drove in a run and walked twice. “We talk about that a lot, getting your specific pitch. If it’s not there, leave off of it. I think that’s what drew us a lot of walks. When we did get our pitch, we hit it.”

After allowing 15 runs in a one-run, extra-inning loss Wednesday night, the comfortable victory was what the Bucks needed. Only five conference games remain as Bozeman (41-14, 14-5) sits in second place behind the Missoula Mavericks.

Starting pitcher Hunter Williams cruised through three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. He retired the Moose Monarchs in order in the first and third innings. He needed just 39 pitches to navigate three innings while Medicine Hat’s first two pitchers needed nearly double that (71) to get through 1 2/3 innings.

Offensively, every player in the Bucks’ starting lineup reached base and scored a run. Eight players recorded at least one RBI. Kelher Murfitt and Wyatt Amende tied for a team-high four RBIs while Samuel Schmidt and Alton Gyselman each scored a team-high four times.

Bozeman scored its 18 runs on 11 hits as the barrage of baserunners overwhelmed Medicine Hat’s pitchers.

“I thought our hitters did a nice job of staying balanced,” manager Garrett Schultz said. “Obviously there was a lot of walks (10) and hit by pitches (four) in that game so definitely took advantage of what they were giving us, and then when we did see a strike, we hit some balls hard and kind of snowballed from there.”

In the second inning alone, 18 Bucks came to the plate, seven walked and seven singled. As each batter continued the streak of reaching base, teammates talked in the dugout about keeping it going, Snyder said.

Gyselman, Carsten Simcox and Schmidt each walked to load the bases at the start of the frame. The inning ended 12 runs later as Bozeman squashed any chance Medicine Hat had.

By the time the Bucks scored their 18th and final run in the fourth, a wild pitch that allowed Schmidt to advance from third, the crowd made little noise. The outcome had already been decided innings earlier.

“Good day for our hitters for sure and defensively we played pretty clean,” Schultz said. “Our pitchers threw strikes and all around, pretty good effort for our guys.”

Key contributors Michael Freund and Sage McMinn missed Thursday’s win, but both are expected to return soon, Schultz said.

With five conference games remaining before the state tournament at the end of the month, Schultz said his top priority is making sure the Bucks regain full strength by then. Albeit against the last-place Moose Monarchs, Bozeman’s most recent victory showed what it’s capable of even without its complete arsenal.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Schultz said. “I think we’ve done a good job the last four months of building to this point.”

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.