Four Home Runs Power Helena Brewers to First Victory, 16-9
It had been a tough start to the Helena Brewers season, as they had dropped the first five contests of 2017 Pioneer League campaign. However, the team finally broke the streak, thanks to four home runs by the team and 5-RBI from Payton Henry in the 16-9 victory over the Billings Mustangs. The Brewers rapped out 14-hits and drew 11-walks in the victory.
After a scoreless first inning, Helena would score eight in the second to take a commanding lead. Gabriel Garcia led off the inning by blasting his first home run of the season over the left field wall to make it 1-0. Chad McClanahan followed by drawing a walk, before Jay Feliciano hit his first home run of the season, a shot over the right-center field wall to extend the lead to three. Yeraldo Martinez then drew a walk, and Franley Mallen doubled, the fifth straight batter of the inning to reach base. Antonio Pinero singled up the middle, scoring Martinez and moving Mallen to third.
That brought a pitching change, as Yerry Santos took over for Max Wotell. However, he could not stop the rally. A wild pitch moved Pinero to second and Zach Clark was by a pitch to load the bases. That started a run of three consecutive batters that were hit by pitches, as Dallas Carroll and Payton Henry were drilled, each scoring a run. Santos remained wild, throwing a wild pitch that scored Clark before walking Garcia.
Once again, Billings turned to their bullpen, this time bringing in Miguel Aguilar. McClanahan followed with a base hit that moved everybody up 90 feet, scoring Carroll. A fielder’s choice by Feliciano would be the first out of the inning before the reliever was able to induce a double play to end the rally.
The Mustangs got a run back in the top of the third. Alejo Lopez doubled to start the frame and scored on a two out base hit by Miles Gordon. That made it 8-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Brewers added two more runs. Pinero reached on an error with one down before Clark walked to put two on. Carroll followed with a base hit that loaded the bases before back-to-back walks to Henry and Garcia brought in two more runs.
Billings responded with two runs of their own in the top of the fourth. Montrell Marshall walked to start the inning and scored when Leandro Santana hit his third home run of the season to cut the deficit to seven.
An inning later, back-to-back home runs would cut that deficit to five. After Carlos Herrera struck out Carlos Rivero and Zeke White to begin the frame, Gordon and Stuart Fairchild followed with solo homers, the first of the season for each, to make it 10-5.
Watching Billings use the long ball to get back into the game, the Helena Brewers responded by flexing their muscles in the bottom half of the fifth. Pinero walked to start the frame and was replaced on the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Clark. He then stole second base before Carroll walked.
The Mustangs took out Aguilar and brought in Connor Bennett, but he was greeted by a three-run homer by Henry, his second home run of the season. Garcia doubled and moved to third when Feliciano singled two batters later. Martinez then stepped to the plate, and drilled the team’s second three run homer of the inning, over the left-field fence to extend the lead to 16-5. That was the first home run of the season for Martinez.
Carlos Herrera (1-0) came out after five innings, and Andrew Vernon relieved for Helena. He tossed three outstanding innings, allowing no one to reach base while striking out four.
In the ninth, Braulio Ortiz relieved looking to just finish out the game, but Billings mounted a rally against him. Pabel Manzanero and Nadir Ljatifi drew back-to-back walks to start the inning, and a passed ball moved them into scoring position before Morgan Loftstrom walked to load the bases with no one out. Lopez then drew the fourth consecutive walk, bringing home Manzanero with the team’s sixth run on the evening. A wild pitch brought home Ljatifi and that would be it for Ortiz.
Rodrigo Benoit came on and gave up a base hit that scored two more runs before inducing a double play to end the game. That left the final of 16-9.
Antonio Pinero finished the game 3-5 with 2-runs and an RBI. Zach Clark scored 3-runs despite not recording a hit. Payton Henry drove in 5 and Yerald Martinez was 2-5 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Billings was led by Miles Gordon, who was 3-5 with a run and 4-RBI.
With their first win of the season under their belts, the Helena Brewers look for win number two against Billings on Sunday afternoon. Harold Chirino (0-1, 12.27) goes for Helena against Jhon DeJesus (0-1, 10.80). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05.
By Robert Pannier