A schedule change to Sunday’s Helena-Butte baseball showdown didn’t do much to slow the visiting Senators.
Isaiah Meza and Ryan Arnston had three hits apiece, and Arnston added a pair of RBis to lead the Senators to a 7-2 win over the Miners, Sunday evening at 3 Legends Stadium.
Rain forced a 1 hour, 7 minute delay to the start of the action, and it also forced the teams to play one nine-inning game instead of the doubleheader that had been scheduled.
Helena coach Dave Thennis used the change to his advantage, with his mind on the Senators’ conference action.
“The guy that threw at the tail end of the ball game would have started Game 2 for us,” Thennis said of his only change. “It just gave us an opportunity to shorten guys up and make sure that we’re ready for conference season later this week.”
Keaton Ralston got the start for the Senators and showed off his power from the mound by retiring five of the first six batters he faced. Three were strikeouts.
His only blemish during that six-out stretch was delivered by Miners’ second baseman Ax Henningsen, who hit a hard grounder up the middle for Butte’s first hit of the game.
The Senators tagged Miners’ starter Quinn Sullivan for three runs in the second inning but the young pitcher did a good job overall in handcuffing a hard-hitting Helena squad.
Sullivan struck out two in the first inning, and worked his way out of potential trouble after allowing the leadoff batter to reach base in the third.
He was charged with five runs in five innings of work before being replaced by lefty Cameron Johnson.
The Senators got all of the runs that they needed in that three-run second inning, one which featured RBI-singles from Carter Pappas, Ryan Arntson and Eamonn Byrne on consecutive at-bats.
The Miners showed vast improvement in this contest, especially after giving up 18 runs in a loss to Bozeman earlier this week, and didn’t seem the least bit intimidated by the highly-touted Senators.
“I think when we play Helena…we’ve played them a lot and we know what to expect,” Miners coach Jeff LeProwse said. “We know all of their guys and I think our guys get up for them a little bit more than for other games. We had a little bit of intensity and didn’t let off. We pitched really well and made a few little errors there. We’ll clean that up and get better.”
Renzy Doherty led off the Miners’ third inning with a walk, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Kash Kelly for Butte’s first run of the game.
Helena responded with two more runs in the top of the fourth inning that opened up a 5-1 lead. The Senators got consecutive hits from Mesa, Pappas and Arntson to start the fourth. Conor McCarvel reached base on an error in which two runs scored, though McCarvel was credited with one RBI.
Sullivan got out of the inning by retiring the next two batters.
Butte got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth when Helena’s shortstop committed a fielding and a throwing error on one play. Moodry, who led off the inning with a hit to right-center, raced to third base on the fielding error and scored on the bad throw to first base.
Brett Tayler, who replaced Helena starting pitcher Ralston in the fourth inning pitched well and picked up the win. He didn’t allow any earned runs in four innings of work.
Taylor Carlson turned what would have been his Game 2 start into two shutout innings, slamming the door on the Miners by retiring all six batters he faced. He pitched the final two innings, striking out two and retiring three others on grounders.
Thennis and LeProwse are looking for consistency from their players and were both pleased by what they saw on Sunday.
“I want us to be routine-based, and the thing that’s gotten us is that we haven’t been super consistent in a number of areas,” Thennis said. “I wanted to see us pitch well and play good defense.
“We’ve got a long way to go before I’d say we’re the team to beat. We just have to keep chipping away and get better. I like my group. I like my guys. They throw strikes and they give you a chance to win.”
LeProwse liked the intensity that he saw from his players against the Senators and hopes to see it against all of the Miners’ opponents.
“They should be up for all of the games,” he said. “We just need to be up for all of them. We need a little bit more intensity, a little more drive at the plate. I’m seeing improvement. We’re a young team. They (the Senators) have 13 seniors and we have four. We know it’s going to be a process and I think we’re getting there.”