Sparked by the pitching of Riley Pickens and Jack Shevalier, and a brand of baseball that does not show up in the box score, the Helena Senators swept their conference opening doubleheader from the Butte Minors Wednesday at home, 6-1 and 7-1.
The win moves the Senators to 19-6 overall, and 2-0 in the conference.
Pickens twirled a 5-hitter and struck out five, while walking just two.
“I was a throwing a two-seam, a four-seam and a curveball, and my curve was my out pitch,” Pickens related. “I was throwing my four seam high, and the curve low and away. But it didn’t matter, because they couldn’t handle it. That last inning I threw 10 straight curveballs.”
Reilly Leary and Ryan Dorvall (triple) paced the home team’s offense, banging three hits apiece. Nick Wrigg broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a booming two-run triple to the right-center field fence. Danny Burton, Payton Pappas and Carter Pappas each chipped in with an RBI.
Shevalier, a hard-throwing lefthander, dominated the Miners hitters in the nightcap, firing a 3-hitter and fanning 10, while walking three batters. Shevalier had “a good fastball and a nasty old curveball” working for him, Senators coach Dave Thennis said.
The top hitters in the second tilt were Payton (triple, RBI) and Henry Bowers (double, RBI), at two base knocks each. Those driving in one run apiece were Wrigg and Stief.
But three plays stood out on the night at Kindrick Legion Field that may best exemplify the dynamics of coach Thennis’ Senators. In the first game, Danny Burton raced all the way to second base on a suicide squeeze bunt, when Butte fielders fell asleep between the pitcher’s mound and home plate after Wrigg had scored.
In the second contest, Dorvall scored all the way from second on a wild pitch when the Miner catcher took his time retrieving a wild pitch; and then a couple of innings later third baseman Jackson Thennis was one of four Senators that backed each other up on a high pop fly near the first base — from the opposite side of the infield.
One thing’s for certain … the latest edition of the Helena Senators play an exciting brand of baseball.
BUTTE 010 000 0 — 1 5 0
HELENA 010 032 x — 6 9 5
WP — Riley Pickens, LP — Nate LeProwse.
BUTTE — Trey Hoagland 1-4, Zach Hart 1-4, LeProwse 0-3, Jared Haran 0-4, Ryan Moodry 0-3, Marcus Madrazo 0-2, Kilian O’Leary 1-3, Braxton Henningson 1-3, Dylan McDonald 1-3.
HELENA — Danny Burton 0-3, Reilly Leary 3-4, Payton Pappas 1-2, Nick Wrigg 1-3, Koby Griffin 0-3, Henry Bowers 0-2, Kienan Stief 0-3, Ryan Dorvall 3-3, Carter Pappas 1-3.
2B — Payton, O’Leary; 3B — Wrigg, Dorvall; RBIs — Wrigg 2, Burton, Payton, Carter, McDonald.
Pickens posted five strikeouts, with two walks.
Butte 000 100 0 — 1 4 2
Helena 103 030 x — 7 9 1
T Hoagland (4 2/3), Quinn Summers (1 1/3); Jack Shevalier (7). W — Shevalier, L — Hoagland.
BUTTE — Hoagland 0-2, Hart 1-3, LeProwse 1-2, Haran 1-3, Moodry 0-3, Madrazo 0-3, O’Leary 1-3, Henningson 0-2, McDonald 0-2, Summers 0-1, Dylan Lane 0-1.
HELENA (19-6, 2-0) — Leary 1-3, Dorvall 0-3, Payton 2-2, Wrigg 1-4, Bowers 2-4, Burton 1-2, Stief 0-3, Jackson Thennis 1-3, Jackson Maynard 1-3.
2B — Bowers; 3B — Payton; RBIs — Payton, Dorvall, Wrigg, Bowers, Stief, Thennis, Madrazo.
Shevalier struck out 10 battters and walked three.