HELENA, MT - The Helena Brewers have carried themselves with a never-say-die attitude all year long, and tonight's game against the Missoula Osprey proved that point. Helena trailed by three or more runs twice, and came back to win 11-8, earned a series split with Missoula. Down four in the seventh, they tied the game with a five run inning, and tied in the eighth, they took the lead for good with a three run frame. The Brewers (7-5) now trail the Osprey (7-4) by just a half game in the division.
Both teams remained scoreless through the first two, and the Osprey struck first with a three run third against Max Lazar. It would be the only runs that Lazar surrendered all night, as he went five innings, walking just one and striking out three.
Helena tied the game at three after five innings thanks to an RBI single from Chad McClanahan in the fourth and RBI singles from Jesus Lujano and Jean Carmona in the fifth. Once the game got to the sixth inning, craziness ensued.
Roberto Delgado came on in relief of Lazar and struck out Zac Almond, but a passed ball on strike three allowed Almond to reach. Then Joe Robbins hit a potential double play ground ball to third that Nick Egnatuk threw in the dirt on the turn to second, putting two on with nobody out. After a Jesus Munoz ground out with one out moved both into scoring position, Nick Dalesandro singled home both, giving Missoula a 5-3 lead. Pablo Abreu then dropped a Brandon Leyton fly ball, scoring Dalesandro, and Jesus Marriaga followed with an RBI single of his own. When the dust settled it was 7-3 Osprey, with all four runs in the inning unearned.
Landon Whitson came on to pitch the sixth for Missoula, and retired the first five going into the seventh, but Helena joined the craziness with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh. Je'Von Ward started the rally with an infield single, and Jesus Lujano then bunted his way on. Yeison Coca then whacked his own infield single, bringing Carmona to the plate as the tying run. Carmona hit a ball to short that could've been an inning ending ground out, but Leyton the shortstop whiffed on the ball, allowing two runs to score and putting the tying run on first. Whitson then walked Chad McClanahan to load the bases, and Osprey manager Mike Benjamin pulled Whitson for Trent Autry (L, 0-1).
The first batter Autry faced was Nick Egnatuk, who took an inside fastball and drilled it into the left center field game, clearing the bases and giving Helena their first lead of the night at 8-7. Because of the Leyton error, all five runs scoring in the inning were also unearned.
However, Missoula struck back with an unearned run in the eighth, as a Carmona error with Brandon Presley on the mound put the tying run aboard. With one out and two on, Leyton made up for his goof with an RBI single, plating the tying run. Peter Strzelecki (W, 2-0) came on and got the final two outs of the inning, keeping the game tied at eight.
Autry returned for the eighth, and put the go ahead run on by allowing a one out single to Abreu. Lujano walked with two out, moving the go ahead run into scoring position. That brought Coca to the plate, and he sent a drive to deep center that flew to the wall, scoring two and going for a triple. Carmona then added one more insurance run with a single to right, scoring Coca easily to extend the lead to 11-8. Strzelecki finished the game with a perfect ninth, earning his second professional win.
The Brewers hit the road for five games in four days, starting with a 7:05 PM game tomorrow in Billings. Justin Bullock takes the mound for the Brewers, while the Mustangs have not yet announced their starter. You can listen to every Helena Brewers road game on helenabrewers.net or on the TuneIn App.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.