HELENA — Early-season baseball was on display at Kindrick Legion Field on Saturday afternoon as the Helena Senators and Bozeman Bucks battled through a Class AA nonconference doubleheader split.
It wasn't the prettiest display of baseball, but both teams found some aspects of the game to build on and areas to improve. The Senators won the first game 7-4 and then the Bucks took the second game 7-3.
Both teams were down several starting players due to sickness and other commitments. Bozeman missed five regulars, while Helena missed three the first game and two the second.
"It was not a very pretty day at the park for either team, really," Bozeman coach Garrett Schultz said. "I am proud of our guys fighting to the end there. It looks a lot better going home with a split, rather than letting Game 2 get away from us."
The games were moved up an hour to race the rain and snow. It was good move as everything wrapped up right before the precipitation began to fall.
However, what showed that it was early in the season was the high number of errors. The Senators committed 10 in two games, eight in the last one, and the Bucks committed eight on the day.
"It's a combination of the weather and we had sloppy play in the field," Helena coach Jon Burnett said of sluggish ending. "We gave them a couple of their runs. We just have to see more live action, and we'll fix it in practice."
The Senators (2-1) had to rally in the first game. They fell behind early thanks to two fielding errors. They kept it close with a run in the first and second innings.
Helena then took the lead with a three-run third inning and two runs in the sixth. Ethan Keintz had two of the team's two hits and Ty McGurran scored three times.
"Last week in two games, we had zero errors, other than a pickoff from the mound," Schultz said. "This week, all our errors were in the middle of our infield. It was new guys playing there, getting their opportunities to show what they can do. I will say they got better throughout the day. But in both games, if we played defense we would have come out on top."
Helena's pitching kept the game together as Hunter Kirkpatrick, Keintz (1-0) and Cy Miller (1 save) combined to strike out nine batters.
"Game 1, we did a better job of getting the runner to third base and get him in," Burnett said. "There are good things to take away from today. The sloppy play, we can clean up. I thought our pitchers did a great job today. We threw lots of strikes."
Both teams took advantage of the other's errors in the second game. It was tied at 3 at then end of regulation. The Bucks (2-2) secured the game in the ninth on a four-run inning.
Alton Gyselman had two of the team's two hits and Samuel Schmidt drove in two runs. Sage McMinn threw five strong innings, striking out seven.
"We are still struggling on the timing," Burnett said. "We saw a good pitcher, but we should have made some adjustments. They are coming."
The Senators could only muster three hits in the game. McGurran scored two more runs, and Ryan Barrett threw five strong innings to start the game.
Due to the weather, Helena's scheduled doubleheader with Kalispell on Sunday was cancelled.