GILLETTE, Wy. — Needing a win to stay alive and advance in the American Legion Northwest Regional tournament, the Helena Senators came through pulling off a 5-2 victory over the Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak.
In the bottom of the seventh, with one out and a runner on first, Yakima Valley's Drew Johnson hit a soft liner that Helena's Forrest Suero was able to get a glove on and knock down. Both Pepsi Pak runners assumed Suero had caught the ball and both stopped dead in their tracks assuming the game was over, which gave the Senators just enough time to turn a game-ending double play and secure a spot in the championship game.
The Pepsi Pak took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Jackson May doubled to center field off of Helena's Tyler Tenney to score Caden Herbst.
Yakima Valley's Eli Grange was tough to beat through three innings of work on the day scattering three hits in those first few innings, but the Senators were able to get to him in the fourth and not the game up at 1-1 after Gavin Thennis doubled to right to score Trysten Mooney.
The Senators took a 3-1 lead in the fifth following a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Mike Hurlburt with the bases loaded to score Cy Miller and a sacrifice fly to left by Ethan Keintz to score Suero. From there, the Senators stayed in the driver's seat with their foot on the pedal.
The Pepsi Pak was able to put up a run in the bottom of the fifth to get within a run of tying it up, the Senators came back out and scored two in the top of the sixth on an error to bring the score to it's final tally of 5-2.
Tyler Tenney was consistent nearly all game on the hill for the Senators pitching a complete game where he gave up 6 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), and two walks while striking out 2 on 97 pitches.
With the win, the Senators will face the winner of Saturday's final match-up that pits the Idaho Falls Bandits and the Eugene Challengers. If the Challengers do win, Idaho Falls will draw an automatic bye into the Championship game; if Idaho Falls wins, the Helena Senators would need to beat the Bandits twice to advance to the American Legion National Tournament.