MISSOULA — With the playoffs out of reach, the Missoula Osprey set their sights on a different sort of pinnacle.
For the first time in three years, the O's assured themselves of a winning overall record with a win Wednesday night. They sealed the deal with a 7-2 decision over the Helena Brewers at Ogren-Allegiance Park.
Key to the outcome was a major offensive uprising in the sixth.
With the score knotted at 1-1, Kristian Robinson smacked his third home run of the season. Eddie Hernandez followed with a triple to right center, then Brandon Leyton and Nick Dalesandro added RBI singles.
Missoula (38-36) still wasn't finished. David Sanchez smacked an RBI single to make the score 5-1. Alek Thomas then chipped in with a two-RBI triple, marking the sixth hit in the team's traditional "peanut inning."
"I just try to relax and have fun because that's the game of baseball," said Thomas, who has had three straight three-hit games. "You gotta have fun out there."
Helena (36-39) scored broke first with the help of some suspect defense by the hosts in the third. Jesus Lujano laced a one-out single, then Yeison Coca hit a low liner to Hernandez at third that he failed to handle. It was scored a hit.
With two outs, LG Castillo hit a single that scored Lujano. Sanchez fielded the hit cleanly in right and made a nice throw ahead of Lujano, but the Osprey catcher Dalesandro failed to get the tag on Lujano, who stirred controversy with the unique way he ran around the catcher.
Hernandez atoned for himself in the fourth. After Robinson hit a leadoff single, Hernandez put down a picture-perfect bunt near the third base line that resulted in an infield single. Leyton followed with a double play ball, but Robinson moved to third in the play and scored on a wild pitch.
Starter Deyni Olivero was solid through five innings for the hosts. He allowed just one run on seven hits with four strikeouts in five innings of duty. Jacob Stevens (3-0) and Oliver Rosario were both solid in relief, with Stevens picking up the win.
Hernandez and Thomas led the Osprey offensive attack with three hits apiece. Robinson, Leyton, Dalesandro and Sanchez each had two hits. Thomas had a team-high two RBIs.
The Osprey and Brewers will play in their season finale on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. in Missoula. It will mark the final game in team history for Helena. The Brewers are moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado, next season.
"Let's get a win tomorrow and finish the season out strong," offered Thomas, whose team will shoot for its fourth win in a row.