DEER LODGE — Positioning for the upcoming American Legion baseball playoffs was at stake on Monday and the Helena Reps took full advantage of it.
The Reps overtook Gallatin Valley and moved into third-place in the conference standings by sweeping Deer Lodge in a doubleheader.
The Reps made quick work of the Wranglers in the first game with a 15-1 win, and followed that up with an 8-2 decision.
Pitching turned out to be the key for the Reps, who held a good-hitting Wranglers club to only three runs over the course of the two games.
Tanner McMahon carried the load in the opener by holding the Wranglers to three hits in five innings. According to Reps coach Jon Burnett, it was more like business as usual for his pitcher.
“Tanner threw a no-hitter against Belgrade in his last start,” Burnett said. “He threw an eight-inning no-hitter. He was good again (Monday). Nothing overpowering. Just locating his fastball and changeup.”
Taylor Stone started for Deer Lodge in the opener and hard trouble keeping up with McMahon. The Reps scored two runs in the first inning but Stone was able to settle down and get a handle on his control in the second. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. The Reps added a pair of runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-1 lead, before pouring it on with 12 runs in the fifth.
Helena benefited from eight hits, four walks, two hit batters and a wild pitch from Stone and reliever Kenny Stryker in the fifth inning.
Leadoff hitter Ryan Arntson drove in five runs for the Reps, who also got contributions from the tail-end of their batting order. Andrew Rosston, the Reps’ No. 8 hitter, singled, doubled, scored twice and drove in three runs.
Eamonn Byrne scored a run and had two RBIs from the ninth spot in the order.
Kaehl Lowery got the start in the second game for the Wranglers and was roughed up as well.
The Reps scored two runs in the second inning and three in the third to build a 5-0 lead. Derek Walker, who had three hits and was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle in the nightcap, scored the Wranglers’ first run. He rang a double high off of the center field fence and later scored on a double by Stryker.
Sheldon Danforth made it a 5-2 score after being hit by a pitch in the third inning and scoring on Walker’s triple.
The Wranglers were trailing, 7-2, in the fifth inning and had a chance to cut into that lead when they loaded the bases with one out but a double-play grounder ended the threat. Deer Lodge’s offense, with the exception of a couple of seventh-inning walks, was silent after that threat.
“Deer Lodge is a very good team so we just tried to put together some good approaches and hit the ball well,” Burnett said. “They’re a good team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go deep in the district tournament.”