HELENA, MT - The big inning has been the friend of the Helena Brewers early on in 2018, and Friday night against the Billings Mustangs was no exception. After scoring two in the first, the Brewers (4-2) exploded for four runs in the fifth inning, cruising to a 7-2 victory over the Mustangs (2-4) at Kindrick Legion Field. Max Lazar (W, 1-0) earned his first victory of the season, allowing just one run over 5.1 innings. Lazar has allowed just one run in 11.1 innings in 2018.
Helena scored in the first as a one out walk from Jean Carmona and a two out single from Nick Egnatuk advanced into scoring position on a passed ball with LG Castillo up. Castillo picked up his teammates with a single to straightaway center against Mac Sceroler (L, 0-1), scoring both and giving the Brewers the lead.
Lazar retired the side in order in the first and second innings, and faced the minimum in the third after Nadir Ljatifi was caught stealing with two outs. He retired the next five until a two out fifth inning double from Bren Spillane, but quickly got a ground out from Drew Mount to end the inning.
The Brewers put the pedal to the floor in the fifth against Billings reliever Andrew McDonald. Robie Rojas drew a leadoff walk, and with one out Yeison Coca walked. Carmona then singled to right, scoring Rojas and moving Coca to third, but a throwing error from Spillane allowed Carmona to take second.
McDonald was pulled for Edward Escoboza, and Billings then drew the infield in down 3-0 for Chad McClanahan. He blooped a single into shallow left, scoring Coca and moving Carmona to third. With Nick Egnatuk up, the Brewers pulled off a successful double steal, plating Carmona to make it 5-0. Castillo then delivered again with a sharp single to left, bringing home McClanahan. It was the second straight game in which the Brewers scored at least four runs in the fifth inning.
Lazar had the bases loaded against him thanks to three singles in the sixth, and was pulled with one out for Austin Rubick. The former 20th round selection limited the damage, allowing just one of Lazar's runs to score to hold the lead at five. Rubick pitched 2.1 innings, striking out three. Helena got one last piece of offense on a Carmona solo blast in the seventh, his second home run of the year. Brandon Presley got the final four outs in his second appearance of the year.
The Brewers and Mustangs return to battle tomorrow at 7:35 PM. Justin Bullock makes his second start for Helena, while Billings counters with righty Jacob Solomon. Stay after the game for a fireworks spectacular presented by Lewis & Clark Library and Toyota. Tickets are still available on the ticketing page of helenabrewers.net.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.