For the first time in many years – and possibly ever – the Helena Senators won a 10-run rule game over the Billings Royals, 11-1 in six innings.
And then as an encore, Helena achieved another first in a very long time – and again maybe never before – by allowing the Royals only two combined total runs in a doubleheader.
The Senators captured the nightcap 3-1 for the sweep, while moving past Billings in the conference standings in the process.
Helena now stands at 30-21 overall and is fourth in league play at 8-8, while the Royals slip to 7-8 in the conference. The Lethbridge Elks are third at 11-4, while the Kalispell Lakers are fifth at 7-7.
“It’s hard to beat a good team like Billings twice, but what we did today – the mercy rule win and holding them to two runs; well, let’s just say it hasn’t happened during my playing days or as a coach,” said coach Dave Thennis, whose time with the Senators dates back over 25 years.
In the lid-lifter at Kindrick Legion Field, the Senators broke the ice with a run in the second inning, and then added two in the fourth to move on top 3-0. After Billings scored one in the fifth, the hosts erupted for eight markers in the bottom of the sixth to put an early end to the festivities.
“Hitting is contagious, and we just strung a bunch of hits together at the end there,” Thennis related. “But I thought Jackson Maynard’s hit in the third inning was the key at bat. He got in the hole with two strikes, but kept battling and fouling pitches off, and then poked an RBI-single that turned the momentum in our favor.”
Every player in the Senators lineup posted an RBI, while the home team banged out 15 hits. Danny Burton, Colin Sassano, Kienan Stief (double), Payton Pappas, Maynard and Ryan Dorvall each rapped two hits apiece.
Henry Bowers pitched a complete game five hitter for the win, with one strikeout and one walk. Billings Ethan Davis took the loss.
Patrick Zimmer and Morgan Dugi both had a pair of singles for the Magic City crew.
In game two, Dorvall and Cameron Maciel hooked up in a pitchers duel.
After giving up a run in the initial stanza, Dorvall shut the Royals out the rest of the way, scattering seven hits. His defense turned a couple of double plays, while twin brothers Carter Pappas at catcher, and first baseman Payton Pappas, performed two of the more sparkling web gems.
The home team went up 2-1 in the bottom of the third, provided by Carter’s leadoff single, a sac bunt by Arntson, Burton’s RBI-double, and a groundball by Koby Griffin that was thrown away as Burton raced across home with the deciding run.
Helena added an insurance marker in the sixth, on a single by Payton, Jackson Thennis’ sac bunt, Ray Moore’s goundout moving the runner to third, and a two-bagger by Carter to bring home brother Payton.
Maciel gave up eight hits in the loss. Teammate Jarret Leinwand drove in the Royals lone run.
“What can I say about our pitching and defense?” asked the Senators skipper, “Except we only gave up two runs all day …”
The two teams meet again today at Kindrick Legion Field in a nine inning tilt, the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.