Ethan Keintz and Chase Nielson
Colby Howell greets Ethan Keintz (left) and Chase Nielson after a big inning.

Independents finish 4-1 in Missoula

The Helena Independents went 4-1 during the Missoula Mavericks Class B tournament from June 29 to July 2, raising their record to 24-8.

In game one against the Missoula Mavs, Ethan Keintz and Chase Nielsen each had a pair of hits and both Keintz and Justice Wrzesinski drove in 2 RBI as the Independents won 7-4. Cy Miller and Peyton Witham shared the mound work, with Witham picking up the win.

In game two, Helena fell in a tight game to the Kalispell Lakers, 4-3. Keintz and Nielsen again led the team with a pair of base knocks, and Rudy Barkley went the distance on the mound, but it wasn’t enough as Barkley was saddled with the loss.

In game three, the Independents won in a low scoring affair, 3-2. Helena only managed three hits, a triple and single by Miller and a base hit from Caden Sell, but Sam Shepherd drove in two runs as the Independents squeaked out a victory. Campbell Turner went 6.1 innings, allowing no earned runs on three hits, striking out three. Hunter Lindgren earned the save by recording the final two outs on only two pitches.

Helena earned it’s third win of the tournament in game four, with Barkley sparking the offense with a three-hit performance. Will Butler hit a bases-clearing, three-run triple and Nielsen drove in two more as the offense backed the quality showing from Keintz on the mound, who gave up two earned runs on six hits over 5.0 innings for the win.

In Sunday’s exciting finale, Helena pulled off an extra-inning comeback win in the 9th inning, thanks to a walk-off double from Keintz, scoring Barkley. The Independents trailed 7-4 going into the final frame, but Keintz tripled to drive in Wrzesinski and Barkley to close the gap to one, and then Nielsen hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

Keintz gave Helena a three-hit day with two doubles and a triple, and Nielsen drove in four to lead the offense. Nielsen and Lindgren shared the work on the mound, with Lindgren picking up the win.

Coach Dane Broadhead’s club next heads to Belgrade on July 3 to take on the Bandits in a doubleheader.