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The marble-sized hail was the final straw.

After several delays for rain and lightning over the course of two games, it was the small balls of ice that brought an early end to the Bozeman Bucks’ doubleheader with non-conference opponent Idaho Falls on Friday evening at Heroes Park.

The Bucks won the early game 7-6 on a walk-off hit from Jake Vigen, and the visiting Bandits claimed the nightcap, which was called off with two outs in the top of the fourth inning and Idaho Falls holding a 9-1 lead.

As the teams exchanged handshakes at the end, the white dots of frozen rain stood out against the green grass and the rust-colored infield dirt.

“It was the right call with the weather,” Bucks manager Garrett Schultz said, making note of the hail and the water the field had already taken in.

Bozeman (14-11) trailed by as many as five runs in the first game. In the top of the fourth inning, Idaho Falls’ Kai Howell reached base on a dropped third strike with two outs. Instead of being out of the inning, McGwire Jephson came to bat and hit a grand slam to make it a 6-1 game.

“That’s why we play a team like that, so when we make those mistakes they get highlighted,” Schultz said. “So we realize how important it is to play clean baseball. But we scratched and fought and ended up hitting the ball well late.”

The Bucks scored twice in the fifth and three times in the sixth to tie the game. In the seventh, Corbin Holzer led off with a double, Preston Fliehman walked and Dillon Coleman singled to advance everybody one base. Vigen’s single to right field scored Holzer and completed the comeback.

Holzer finished 3 for 3, all doubles, with two runs scored and one driven in. Max Matteucci also hit two doubles, drove in two and scored once. Vigen and Coleman both had two hits. Andrew Western pitched the final three innings for Bozeman and allowed just one hit in that span. He walked none and struck out one, and he also went 1 for 3 with two runs at the plate.

“We’re not very good when we just try to get up there and pull it, but we’re pretty good when we commit to the middle of the field,” Schultz said of the team’s offensive turnaround.

In the second game, the Bandits struck early with four runs on three hits and two walks against Bucks starter Chris Wrench. Idaho Falls added three more runs in the second against Holzer, who had taken over on the mound.

In the bottom of the second, Gannon McGarrah reached first on an error, and Vigen doubled to right field. McGarrah scored on a Matteucci groundout, but Bozeman would be stymied beyond that. Idaho Falls added two more runs in the fourth before the game was called to a close.

“It’s always a challenge to play those guys,” Schultz said. “It’s kind of how it’s gone the last three years — lose one, win one.”

Despite splitting a doubleheader for the second time in three days, Schultz was optimistic about what Friday’s first game showed. He hopes to see more of it when Bozeman welcomes the Billings Scarlets to town for a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday and then the Helena Senators for a twinbill starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

“We’re certainly capable of beating good teams,” Schultz said. “We’ve beat a lot of good teams already this spring. We’re playing with lineups still, we’re putting a lot of different guys out there and giving them opportunities.”

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Parker Cotton can be reached at or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @ByParkerCotton.

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