At last year’s Keith Sell Tournament, the Helena Senators broke a 12-year dry spell with their first championship in the tourney since 2003.
So after the Senators successfully retained their title on Sunday over Eastside Baseball in extra innings, 4-3 on Danny Burton’s walk-off RBI-fielder’s choice, coach Dave Thennis acknowledged with a grin, “We’re on a roll.”
The victory runs Helena’s winning streak to eight straight games, while lifting its overall record to 22-15.
In an exciting, well-played finals at Kindrick Legion Field, despite six total errors — four by Helena and two by Eastside — Burton came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded and the score tied at 3-all.
Eamonn Byrne — who had reached on a single, then stole second and went to third on Ray Moore’s single — stood just 90 feet away with the winning run.
After Carter Pappas walked to juice the bags, Burton rapped a hard-hit ground ball to second, with Byrne running on contact. The throw to the plate was too late, as Byrne slid across home with the game-winner.
“I just tried to keep it simple because I’ve been seeing the ball good lately,” related Burton. “I wanted to just make contact, and since there was only one out, if I hit it solid I figured it would probably work out.”
The Senators took a 2-1 lead after three innings, and held onto it until the fifth. Someone finally got a ball past centerfielder Ryan Dorvall, who has made one circus catch after another during the past week. He just barely missed another one on Edwin Stanberry’s double to deep left-center, and the Washington club knotted the score at 2s.
Eastside edged in front 3-2 in the top of the seventh frame, but Helena forced extra innings when Burton led off the bottom half with a single, moved to second on Dorvall’s sac bunt, and raced home on Colin Sassano’s misplayed two-hopper to second.
Senators hurler Koby Griffin started on the hill and went six innings, scattering nine hits and permitting three runs, although two were unearned. He struck out two Eastside batsmen and walked one.
Henry Bowers (1 2/3 innings, two strikeouts) and Dorvall (one-third inning) relieved the final scoreless two stanzas. Dorvall was credited with the win.
At the plate, Kienan Steif had a single and an RBI. Helena’s other base knocks belonged to Jackson Thennis, Bowers and Dorvall, who led the home team with a .500 average (8 for 16) in the tourney’s five contests.
The Cutters’ Chris Damatio held the hosts at bay for 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two runs. He was spelled by Stanberry in the sixth, who was saddled with the loss.
Stanberry led Eastside’s offense, which out-hit the Capital City crew 10-7, going 4 for 5, with an RBI.
“Nothing was easy in this game,” Senators’ coach Dave Thennis said. “They played well, and their pitching was great. I think we were a little tight, thus the errors; we weren’t quite as loose in the dugout as the earlier games.
“But we’re happy to win our own tourney again, it’s a fun atmosphere here in Kindrick Legion Field, and to do it in extra innings is icing on the cake.”
Butte captured the consolation finals 7-5 over Class A Gallatin Valley to place third, while the Helena Reps defeated Calgary 6-4 in an exhibition game.
Eastside Crosscutters 010 010 10 – 3 10 2
Helena Senators 002 000 11 – 4 7 4
Chris Damitio, Edwin Stanberry (6); Koby Griffin, Henry Bowers (7), Ryan Dorvall (8). W – Dorvall, L – Stanberry.
EASTSIDE – Justin Hedge 0-5, Tyson Thurman 1-5, Stanberry 4-5, Luke Shekeryk 1-4, Morgan Curry 2-3, Damitio 1-4, Kody Coop 1-4, Spercer Bayes 0-3, Sam Barnett 0-2.
HELENA (22-15) – Danny Burton 1-5, Ryan Dorvall 1-2, Colin Sassano 0-3, Kienan Stief 1-4, Payton Pappas 0-3, Jackson Thennis 1-4, Henry Bowers 1-2, Ray Moore 1-3, Carter Pappas 0-2, Eamonn Byrne 1-1.
2B – Stanberry; RBIs – Burton, Stief, Sassano, Stanberry, Curry.