HELENA — The Helena Senators scored in each of the first five innings, and seven of eight overall, banged out 12 hits and beat the Missoula Mavericks 12-2 on Wednesday night at Kindrick Legion Field. Helena improves to 8-4 on the season, dropping Missoula to 6-9.
A combined 14 errors, seven by each team, filled the error column of the box score on a night when the baseball was leaving bats with pace. Three times in the first five frames, the Senators capitalized on the Mavericks’ miscues, helping the home team build a 6-0 advantage in the early-going.
“Defensively, it was a pretty weird game,” Senators head coach Jon Burnett said. “A lot of errors were just balls in guys’ gloves that they didn’t squeeze it on. Pitching was great. I thought our offense is coming around, we hit the ball well, had good approaches.”
Only Caden Sell’s single in the third inning and Michael Hurlbert’s run-scoring base hit in the fourth went into the scorebook as RBI through the initial five innings, while Gavin Thennis added a two-RBI double in the seventh.
Winners of five of their last six games and now sporting a 4-1 record against Missoula this season, the Senators saw five different players record multi-hit games, while seven different players notched at least one knock.
“We like to be aggressive, we like to put pressure on other teams,” Burnett said. “So when there’s some plays that aren’t quite being made, we’re going to push the envelope a little bit. I thought we did that pretty well today.”
On a night when the defense was not as crisp as the weather, the Senators leaned on Tyler Tenney keeping Missoula off the base paths. Pouring in nearly 65 percent of his pitches for strikes, Tenney needed just 85 pitches to complete five innings.
“Ty is one of our guys that has thrown quite a few innings at the AA level, so we’re confident when we send him out there,” Burnett said. “He located three or four different pitches for strikes in any count today. He got down in full counts to a couple of their really good hitters and threw off-speed pitches to them to get the strikeouts. He was pretty sharp tonight.”
Despite some additional baserunners due to Helena errors, Tenney scattered just four Maverick hits while striking out six and not allowing a walk. Tenney added a sacrifice fly in a three-run Senators seventh inning that was in response to a two-run top half from Missoula.
Helena’s bat seemingly got hotter as the stadium lights came to life and pushed across a combined six runs in the final two innings to finish off the run-ruling of Missoula in just eight innings.
The Senators’ game-clinching run came courtesy of a passed ball in the eighth, but the inning was helped along by error No. 14, ensuring there would be the same number of errors committed as combined runs scored on Wednesday night.
For the Mavericks, who got a 2-for-4 effort from Skye Palmer and their lone RBI from Charlie Kirgan, the loss pushes their losing streak to seven games.
“We have better talent than what we’re showing out there right now,” Mavericks head coach Brent Hathaway said. “The mistakes that we’re making aren’t things that aren’t worked on during the week in practice. It’s a players game and players need to play.”
Missoula is scheduled to be back in action on Saturday against the Billings Royals on the road with a 12:30 p.m. first pitch. Helena returns to the diamond on Thursday against the Butte Miners on the road with a 7 p.m. first pitch. Sunday then features a doubleheader on the road against the Great Falls Chargers. First pitches are scheduled for 1 and 3:30 p.m.