The old baseball cliché is that pitching and defense wins championships. If the Helena Brewers want to knock off Great Falls when the Pioneer League Playoffs start on Monday, they are going to have to see improvement in those facets of the game.
The Brewers had a nightmare fourth inning when they committed two errors, walked four batters, hit a batter, and allowed four hits as the Voyagers sent 14 men to the plate and scored nine times.
Helena could not recover as they fell to Great Falls 10-1 on Thursday at Kindrick Legion Field.
After Zach Quintana (above) tossed three shutout innings to start the game, things fell apart for him and his teammates in the fourth.
After a pair of walks and a single loaded the bases for the Voyagers, Corey Thompson hit a sharp ground ball Taylor Brennan at third.
Instead of attempting to turn a 5-4-3 double play, Brennan tried to get the runner at the plate but his throw came up short and bounced by catcher Dustin Houle. Jacob Morris and Zach Voight scored on the play.
Zac Fisher would later score on a groundball off the bat of Dillon Haupt.
After Justin Jirschele singled and Christian Stringer was hit by a pitch to reload the bases, Brennan made another costly miscue.
Adam Engel hit a grounder to Brennan and this time he looked to turn a double play. But as he was about to throw to second he bobbled the ball and his throw to first was late as everyone was safe on the error and the Voyagers took a 4-0 lead.
Great Falls would score its fifth run of the inning when Shryock hit a grounder to second and the Brewers couldn't complete a double play as Jirschele scored.
After Morris walked for the second time in the frame, Quintana was pulled from the game in favor of David Otterman.
Voight, the 11th man to bat in the inning, greeted Otterman to game by ripping a double to left to make it a 7-1 game.
After Otterman walked Fisher to load the bases, Thompson smoked a 3-2 pitch past Angel Ortega at short to give Great Falls a 9-1 lead.
In the fifth inning it started raining and once the bottom of the fifth was finished, the tarp was called onto the field and the game was delayed for 37 minutes.
Once the game resumed, the Voyagers would grab another run in the seventh when Brennan made another throwing error as Stringer scored.
The Brewers scored their only run in the first inning when Dionis Hinojosa walked to lead off the inning and Charlie Markson hit a 3-2 pitch over the head of Morris in right to drive home Hinojosa.
Helena actually out hit Great Falls 11 to 7, but nine walks and five hit by pitches by Brewer pitching certainly didn't help the cause on a rough all-around night for Helena.
The Brewers will get another chance against their playoff foe Friday night at Kindrick Legion Field. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.