The Helena Senators stayed alive in the Alberta-Montana State AA Legion Tournament, coming from behind to beat the Kalispell Lakers 7-4 on Thursday.
Ryan Dorvall’s two-run, fifth inning double sparked the comeback, and Carter Pappas turned in a gutsy performance of long relief to cement the victory.
The No. 8 Senators’ first win at a state tourney in five years vaulted them into Friday’s 1 p.m. game versus Bozeman in an elimination contest at Kindrick Legion Field.
When Pappas relieved starter Koby Griffin in the third inning with two out and runners on the corners, Kalispell led 4-0. After inducing a fly ball to right to end the inning, the right-hander proceeded to blank the Lakers out the rest of the way, allowing four hits, walking three and striking out three.
“I was throwing a fastball, a curve ball and a change-up, with the curve being my out pitch,” Pappas explained. “I just came in to throw strikes, have them put the ball in play, and let our defense do its’ job.”
And what a job they did.
Helena played errorless ball in the field, highlighted by shortstop Kienan Stief’s clutch play to get his man at first on a difficult play to end the eighth inning with a runner, and a ninth inning 6-4-3 (Stief-Danny Burton–Payton Pappas) double-play to end the game.
“That’s way beyond Carter’s limit; he showed a lot of grit out there,” said Senators coach Dave Thennis, referring to the fact that Pappas — who started out as the team’s catcher — did not even take to the mound until late June, and then in only a short relief capacity. “But he kept getting better and sharper as the game went along, and he had things in control the rest of the way.”
Kalispell starter Sam Crompton shut out Helena through the first four innings before the Senators cracked the scoreboard in the fifth for a run. They added another score in the sixth, and trailed 4-2 heading into the sixth.
Then in the top of the seventh, the Senators pushed across three runs. Jackson Maynard led off with a single, followed by back to back walks to Danny Burton and Reilly Leary.
Next, on an 0-2 count, Dorvall stroked a two-bagger down the right field line to knot the score. Moments later, Nick Wrigg lofted a high sacrifice fly to right, and Leary sped home with what turned out to be the deciding run.
Helena pushed across two more in the eighth for insurance.
“When were down 4-0, the way things have been going it felt like 14-0 … but I told the guys to just keep grinding it out,” Thennis said. “So then we get a single and a couple walks, and Dorvall’s hit was huge. Sometimes that’s all it takes, is a kid making a play like that propels the whole team.”
Burton had the Senator’s lone multi-hit game, with a pair of singles, including an impossible bunt that he beat out in the eighth.
No. 5 Kalispell actually outhit Helena 10-8, with four doubles, led by Brandon Maasen’s pair. Maasen relieved the seventh and took the loss.
Helena – 000 011 320 — 7 8 0
Kalispell – 202 000 000 — 4 10 1
Koby Griffin (2.2), Carter Pappas (6.1); Sam Crompton (6), Brandon Maassen (1), Logan DeCock (2). W – Pappas, L – Maassen.
HELENA — Reilly Leary 1-3, Ryan Dorvall 1-4, Nick Wrigg 0-4, Kienan Stief 0-3, Payton Pappas 1-5, Kenny Wilson 0-1, Carter Pappas 1-3, Jackson Maynard 1-4, Danny Burton 2-2, Jackson Thennis 1-2.
KALISPELL — Walker Malmin 1-4, Andrew Schluesner 1-4, Patrick O’Connell 1-4, Robert Reaser 1-4, Andy Bemis 1-3, Tiler Whiteaker 2-4, Sam Crompton 1-3, Levi Brenneman 0-3, Brandon Maassen 2-4.
2B — Maassen 2, Dorvall, Payton, O’Connell, Bemis, Whiteaker; RBIs – Dorvall 2, Reaser 2, Leary, Wrigg, Payton, Burton, Bemis, Whiteaker.
Billings Royals 11, Bozeman 6
The No. 2 Billings Royals jumped out to an early 8-0 lead after three innings and then held off No. 6 Bozeman for an 11-6 win in the championship bracket’s second round.
Calvin Bjorgum spearheaded the Magic City crew’s offense, going 2 for 5, with a double and three RBIs. Kolby Reed was 3 for 5 and had a double and a pair of RBIs. Ethan Davis started and went eight for the win, scattering nine hits and permitting just one earned run.
Bozeman was led by Morgan Hostetler, at 2 for 4, with a double and a couple of RBIs. DJ Perdaems was hung with the loss.
The Royals will now meet the crosstown rival Scarlets in the semifinals at 7 p.m.
Billings Scarlets 9, Missoula 8
In the second winner’s bracket game, the No. 1 Billings Scarlets trailed the No. 4 Missoula Mavericks 8-5 going into the ninth inning, but then scored four runs for a come-from-behind 9-8 victory in the final contest of the day.
After tying the game at 8, Jake Leinwand’s RBI-single plated Jalen Garcia with the deciding run. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Garcia came in in relief and registered the last two outs by way of strikeout, utilizing his vaunted fastball that was clocked at 89 miles per hour.
Garcia also led the Scarlets’ 17-hit attack, going 5 for 5 with a home run and six RBIs. The Mavericks were paced by Jesson Preston with a double, a homer and two RBIs.
Matt Larsen pitched the win, while Josh Harrington took the loss.
Missoula will play Lethbridge at 4 p.m. in an elimination tilt.
Lethbridge Elks 7, Medicine Hat Monarchs 3 (Loser out)
In a battle between the two Canadian teams in the tourney, No. 3 Lethbridge eliminated Medicine Hat 7-3, powered by a big, four-run eighth inning.
Jack McDonald had two doubles for the Elks, while teammate Eric Davies drove in a couple of runs. Nick Tetzlaff pitched the win.
The Monarchs were led by Conner McCurdy, who went 3 for 4 with a double. Kevin Ellefson was saddled with the loss.