MISSOULA – With the Class AA American Legion Baseball regular season winding down to the final week, many teams could still make a big jump or fall in the state standings. One team picked up two much-needed wins at Lindborg-Cregg Field on Thursday.
The Helena Senators finished strong in two games to sweep a doubleheader at the Missoula Mavericks. Helena came back to win Game 1, 3-2, and scored the final five runs to win Game 2, 7-2.
The wins greatly increase Helena’s chances to finish in the top eight of the state standings and qualify for the state tournament. The Senators improved to 9-11 in conference play, two games ahead of the Great Falls Chargers and Medicine Hat Moose Monarchs, who are tied for eighth place.
The losses dropped the Mavericks to 9-10 in conference play. Sixth-place Missoula is now only half a game ahead of Helena.
The Mavericks took the first lead of the day on a two-run single by James Martin in the bottom of the second. Helena tied the game with two runs in the fourth. The first came on a squeeze play. Seth Barrett made a great slide around the Mavs catcher to score the Senators’ first run. The next batter, Riley Chisholm, blooped an RBI single to left center.
The seven-inning game remain tied into the final frame. Andrew Rosston provided the clutch hit with a two-out double scoring Colin Sassano. The Mavericks put the tying run on first base with two outs, but Sam Bucy flied out to right to end the game.
In Game 2, Helena took a 2-0 lead on a Chisholm RBI single in the second and a Barrett triple in the third. Missoula came back on a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third and an RBI groundout in the fourth.
Then Helena took over the final innings. Rosston again gave the Senators the lead with an RBI in the fifth. He drove in yet another run in the seventh, and Ty McGurran followed with a two-run double to give the Senators a more comfortable win.
Missoula will play its final three games of the regular season at home against the Lethbridge Elks, with one game on Saturday night and a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. Helena travels to the Billings Scarlets for its final two games on Sunday.
The State AA Legion Baseball tournament starts in Kalispell on July 28.