HELENA — A Gallatin Valley Class A team used to playing up a level beat the Class AA Helena Senators 4-2 on Wednesday inside Kindrick Legion Field behind some strong starting pitching and timely hits.
“We’ve played Great Falls AA six times already, so we’ve seen guys with velocity and we’ve seen some pretty good pitchers,” Outlaws head coach Duwayne Scott said postgame. “Caden [Sell], I thought, did a good job on the mound for them and I thought we were able to put together a couple good at-bats with runners in scoring position...I thought we played good defense and came up with some timely hits.”
A two-run double by Gallatin Valley’s Isaac Richardson in the fifth inning proved to be the difference for the Outlaws as their pitching staff kept Helena off-balance for much of the night. That resulted in the Senators committing more errors than hits, and save for back-to-back singles in the fourth inning that helped tie the game at two, Helena was collectively silent at the plate.
“Can’t win the game if you don’t put the ball in play,” Senators head coach Jon Burnett said. “Wasn’t a very competitive game by us. I don’t think we showed up and we didn’t put any pressure on them tonight.”
With Mason Shively on the mound for the Outlaws, Helena went into the fourth inning trailing 2-0 and without a hit. Will Brent, however, picked up an RBI with a single in the fourth, and two batters later, Judson Seliskar tied the game with an RBI groundout.
That would be all the Senators could muster on Wednesday night, and after a one out baserunner in the seventh inning was picked off, Helena ended the night quietly with just two hits to the Outlaws’ seven. Shively needed 60 pitches to get through four innings and allowed just the two hits and one earned run while striking out two batters and walking one.
Patrick Dietz finished the game with three hitless innings in relief and threw 61.9 percent of his 42 pitches for strikes.
“Mason has done this for a couple years now,” Scott said. “Last year, he was probably our No. 1 arm as a sophomore and he hasn’t disappointed. On Saturday, he threw 47 pitches in four innings against the Chargers and kept them off-balance just like he did the Senators tonight. Hopefully them seeing Mason and seeing Patrick will make them a better team over the summer, as well.”
Gallatin Valley jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third inning on a Brody Ayers base hit in an inning that featured two errors by the Senators. Those miscues made both runs Helena starter Caden Sell gave up unearned as he scattered three hits and two walks over three innings of work while striking out three.
“A lot of those hits [Gallatin Valley] had, we were up 1-2 in the count,” Burnett said. “Just a little bit too much nibbling there instead of attacking them. We put them into good counts where they knew a fastball was coming and they got the key hits tonight.”
Brady Jones, Reid Woodward and Ayers all turned in multi-hit efforts for the Outlaws on Wednesday.
For Gallatin Valley, this win is nice, but with conference play looming in the coming weeks, these opportunities just to play Class AA programs are invaluable.
“That’s why we play the AA programs to get better and to see good pitching and to see really good hitters to make our pitchers work harder,” Scott said. “Nobody is ever going to remember in July that this happened, but we’d much rather be playing rather than sitting at home practicing.”
For the Senators, this game just means more work in the cage and at practice to continue working out the bugs before the games that really matter roll around.
“In the grand scheme of things, this is just extra work, extra practice,” Burnett said. “We don’t really play a game that counts until June 2, so we’ll just be right back at it tomorrow and work on getting that bat out there and driving the baseball.”
The Senators will return to the field for a doubleheader on Saturday against the Great Falls Chargers at home. First pitches are scheduled for 1 and 3:30 p.m.