In the last home stand of the regular season, in a doubleheader versus the Billings Scarlets on Thursday, the Helena Senators overcame a five-run deficit to tie things up the fifth inning before dropping a close, 8-5 decision.
Then, in the nightcap, the Scarlets posted a 10-0 shutout and completed a three-game sweep over the hosts, having prevailed 6-2 on Wednesday.
Helena slips to 33-26 overall and 7-13 in conference play, while its losing streak now stands at five games.
In the opener, Billings starter Reese Queen took a one-hit shutout and 5-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning before the Senators pushed across three runs to close within two, 5-3.
Helena’s Danny Burton saved at least one run in the top of the sixth frame when, after Jalen Garcia tripled with two out, Burton made a running, diving catch of a sinking liner in shallow right field to end the inning.
Coach Dave Thennis’ Senators knotted the score at 5-all in the bottom half of the sixth, when Ryan Dorvall stroked an RBI single, advanced all the way to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Kienan Stief’s sacrifice bunt.
But the Sens then lost the game in the ninth, as the Scarlets plated three and kept Helena off the scoreboard in its last at-bat.
“There’s not much to say,” Thennis said. “It was just a really difficult day, and we’ll keep searching for the right solution.”
Elijah Sommerville led the Scarlets’ 14-hit attack, going 3 for 4 at the plate with a triple and a pair of RBIs.
Luke Funyak earned the win, with Garcia picking up the save.
Jack Shevalier started for Helena and went 4 2/3 innings before giving way to relievers Carter Pappas and Riley Pickens. Pappas was saddled with the loss.
Jackson Maynard and Ryan Dorvall had two hits apiece for the Senators, with Stief banging a double and posting two RBIs.
In between games, Shevalier, Nick Wrigg, Reilly Leary, Chase Rook and Riley Pickens were recognized on Senior Night.
The second tilt saw Magic City hurler Cody Knote throw a five-hit shutout against Helena. Billings’ offense was paced by Cole Jones, going 3 for 3, with a double and a triple, and one RBI.
Senators starter Kenny Wilson worked four innings and sustained the defeat. Jackson Thennis stroked a double and single for Helena.
The Senators will close out the regular season with a twinbill in Bozeman on Saturday, before hosting the Alberta-Montana State AA Legion Tournament on Wednesday.
Billings 8, Helena 5
Billings – 210 110 3 — 8 14 3
Helena – 000 032 0 — 5 6 4
R Queen (4.1), L Funyak (1.2), J Garcia (1.0); Jack Shevalier (4.2), Carter Pappas (2.0), Riley Pickens (0.1). W – Funyak, L – Pappas.
SCARLETS — C Jones 1-3, J Cobb 1-3, J Garcia 2-5, J McGovern 1-3, C Golden 1-4, G Sveinson 1-4, E Sommerville 3-4, R Bruns 3-3, J Tallman 1-4.
SENATORS — Koby Griffin 0-2, K Stief 1-4, Danny Burton 0-3, Nick Wrigg 0-3, Payton Pappas 0-0, Jackson Thennis 0-4, Kenny Wilson 0-1, Jackson Maynard 2-3, Ryan Dorvall 2-3, Jack Shevalier 0-0, Reilly Leary 1-2.
2B — Stief; 3B – Garcia, Sommerville; RBIs – Sommerville 2, Stief 2, Cobb, Garcia, McGovern, Golden Bruns, Tallman, Griffin, Dorvall.
Billings 10, Helena 0 (5)
Billings – 102 25 — 10 8 0
Helena – 000 00 — 0 5 1
Cody Knote (5); Kenny Wilson (4), Henry Bowers (0), Jacob Hatzenbuehler (.1), Jackson Maynard (.2). W – Knote, L – Wilson
SCARLETS — Cole Jones 3-3, Jackson Cobb 0-1, Jalen Garcia 1-2, Jake McGovern 1-2, Cage Golden 0-2, Gordon Svienson 0-2, AJ Smith 0-3, Luke Funyak 2-3, Riley Burns 1-2, Preston Shriver 0-1
HELENA (33-26, 7-13) — Koby Griffin 0-3, Kienan Stief 1-3, Danny Burton 1-3, Nick Wrigg 1-3, Payton Pappas 0-1, Jackson Thennis 2-2, Carter Pappas 0-2, Riley Pickens 0-2, Chase Rook 0-1.
2B — Jones, Garcia, Funyak, Thennis; 3B – Jones; RBIs – Garcia 2, Jones, Funyak, Bruns.