Voyagers Miscues Gives Helena 7-4 Victory in 12
The Helena Brewers had started off the 2017 Pioneer League season struggling, going 1-6 through the first week. However, they have been on fire since, winning three in a row entering Thursday night’s contest. This was a great affair that would require extra frames, with the Brewers eventually winning in 12 thanks to two errors in the 7-4 victory over the Great Falls Voyagers. Zach Clark had 4-hits, drove in 2 and scored 2-runs, and Jay Feliciano had 3-hits and 3-runs scored to pace the Helena offense. Rodrigo Benoit won his first game of the year with four scoreless innings of relief.
Carlos Herrera started for Helena and he and Chris Comito both were on top of their game. This was a scoreless affair through the first three-frames as Comito retired the side in order in the first, third, and fourth innings.
Herrera had retired the minimum through the first three-innings, only issuing a two-out walk in the second to Matt Dutto, but he was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Great Falls would finally break the deadlock. Tyler Frost led off the inning by hitting a ball to the wall in center field that he legged into a triple, his Pioneer League leading fourth of the season. Tate Blackman was then hit by a pitch and, two batters later, Anthony Villa singled to score Frost to make it 1-0.
Comito had allowed just three-hits through the first five-frames and that one-run lead looked insurmountable, but the Helena Brewers would finally get to the Great Falls starter in the sixth. With one down, Gabriel Garcia beat out a ground ball for a single. Payton Henry replaced Garcia on the base paths when he hit into a fielder’s choice and Jay Feliciano followed with a walk to put two on with two down. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, and Zach Clark followed with a single into left that brought both runners home to make it 2-1.
That hit would be the last batter that Comito would face as Sean Renzi came on. With Franly Mallen at the plate, Renzi attempted to pick off Clark, but his throw was wild, allowing Clark to move to second. Mallen would then deliver a double that brought home Clark as the Brewers scored all three-runs with two-outs.
In the bottom of the sixth, Great Falls got one of those runs back. Brandon Presley relieved for Helena and Blackman and Justin Yurchak delivered back-to-back singles to start the inning. That put runners at the corners for Villa, who hit a sacrifice fly to score Blackman and make this a one-run game.
In the seventh, the Voyagers tied the score. Dylan File was pitching for Helena, and he struck out the first two batters of the inning, but Felix Mercedes would even the game at three, with his first home run of the season.
The Brewers retook the lead in the top of the eighth. Joe Mockbee was on the hill when Feliciano hit his second homer of the season over the fence in left-center to make it 4-3. Clark followed with a base hit and would eventually make it to third, but Mockbee kept this a one-run game by getting a comebacker to end the threat.
For the third straight inning, the Voyagers scored a run, thanks once again to the long ball. With two down in the bottom of the eighth, Yurchak clubbed his second homer of the season over the right field fence to tie the score.
That began a showdown of bullpens. Rodrigo Benoit came in for Helena and he was absolutely brilliant, retiring the first nine batters he faced. That helped to send the game to the 12th where the Brewers would finally earn the victory.
J.B. Olson came on for Great Falls and he would pitch well. It would be his defense that would let him down. After striking out Henry to start the inning, Feliciano and Clark delivered back-to-back singles. Mallen then grounded to short. Dutto made a nice play, but his throw to second was wild, allowing Feliciano to score and Clark and Mallen to both get into scoring position. Next up was Jose Gomez who grounded to first, but Yurchak misplayed the ground ball, and both runners came home to make it 7-4.
In the bottom of the 12th, Benoit allowed a two out hit, but he struck out the side to close out the game. Rodrigo Benoit (1-2) allowed that one-hit in 4-innings of work. He did not walk a batter and struck out 4.
Zach Clark had another big night at the plate. A night after he hit a first inning grand slam, Clark was 4-6 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Jay Feliciano also had a huge night for Helena, going 3-5 with 3-runs, a homer and an RBI. Justin Yurchak led the Great Falls offense, going 2-5 with a run and an RBI.
The Helena Brewers will look to extend their winning streak to five games Friday night. Helena will send Harold Chirino (0-1, 7.27) to the hill. Great Falls will counter with Luis Ledo (1-0, 1.50). First pitch is scheduled for 7:00.
By Robert Pannier