Extra-base hits were the order of the day Sunday as Missoula and Helena combined for 17 of them in splitting their Class AA Legion baseball doubleheader at Lindborg-Cregg Field.
The Senators jumped out to a big lead in the first game only to hold on to beat the Mavericks 11-8. In the late game, Missoula rallied to take a 10-6 decision.
The Mavericks finished with a total of 25 hits, including nine for extra bases.
"That was the bright spot," said Missoula manager Brent Hathaway. "Defensively, we continue to struggle to come up with the perfect game."
The Mavs, who have yet to sweep a doubleheader this season, bumped their record to 7-6 overall. Helena, the two-time defending state champ, has now taken three out of four games with Missoula this spring.
The Senators tallied 23 hits and eight of those were for extra bases. Helena, which recorded six triples on the day, appeared to be in control of the extra-base tug-o-war. That is, until the sixth inning of the late game.
The Mavs sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs to take a 10-4 lead. The inning included three consecutive doubles and a run-scoring triple by Jesse Corbett - Missoula's only three-bagger.
Helena plated two runs in the seventh and had the bases loaded with two outs, before Mavs' reliever Blake Honey caught Tanner Swanby looking at strike three to end the threat.
Trailing 4-0 in the fifth, Missoula rallied for five runs in its turn at the plate. Blake Honey, who was a perfect 4-for-4, had a two-run double after a sacrifice bunt moved runners up. After another sac bunt, Corbett dropped in a two-RBI single for the go-ahead runs.
Corbett picked up the win on the mound to improve his record to 2-1. The lefty went five innings, gave up seven hits and struck out three.
Pitching still took a back seat to hitting on this Mother's Day.
Hathaway wasn't pleased with his pitchers' performances, saying they left the ball up in the strike zone too much.
"When you live around the belt all day long I would expect a team like Helena to take advantage of that," Hathaway said. "Our pitchers did not locate the baseball and it showed.
"We have a long ways to go before we get to a point where we're considered to be a very good baseball team."
Helena did a better job of spreading out its extra-base hits between seven different batters. Missoula's extra-base hit club was a little more exclusive.
"We had a nucleus of about four guys that lit it up," Hathaway said.
That group included Honey, Tyler Hoffman, Adam Kerr and Corbett.
The combination of Honey and Hoffman was particularly productive. Honey, the Mavs' leadoff man, and Hoffman, the No. 2 batter, combined to go 10-for-14 at the plate with six extra-base hits and nine runs batted in.
Kerr, who's been a run-producer all season, went 6-for-8 with two doubles and three RBIs. Corbett was 4-for-7 with four RBIs.
In the first game, Hoffman made his presence felt with a fourth-inning grand slam.
It was Hoffman's second career 'granny.' The Mavs' catcher hit a game-ending grand slam in a 11-1 victory over Lethbridge last year. On Sunday, he finished 3-for-3 and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Hoffman's blast helped narrow the Senators' lead to 10-7, and in the sixth Missoula had a chance at tying or taking the lead.
Hoffman doubled and scored on a single by Kerr. Kerr swiped second base, but couldn't advance after a fly out. Next up, Corbett was out on a grounder to third and Kerr was caught loafing back to second to complete an odd double play.
"We have a guy at second with nobody out and we couldn't do anything with that situation," Hathaway said. "That was disappointing."
Mavs starter Mike Cooley gave up 10 runs on 11 hits in the first two innings. Dana Driggs had a two-run triple to highlight a six-run first and Jake Samuelson followed with another two-run triple in the second to make it 10-0. Samuelson went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
For the series, Helena was paced by B.J. Underkofler who went 5-for-7 with two triples and three RBIs. Quinn LeSage added a two-run homer in the second game. He finished with three hits and four runs batted in.
Notes: The Mavs will be without first baseman Taran Kahler until next month. The 6-foot-2 Kahler suffered a bruised sternum and injured his wrists and ankles in a motorcycle accident Saturday. Hathaway said he wasn't sure how long Kahler would be out, but doctors said three weeks. … Missoula's conference opener with the Great Falls Stallions, which was rained out Saturday, will be rescheduled.
Helena 11, Missoula 8
Helena 640 000 1 - 11 13 0
Missoula 003 401 0 - 8 12 1
Zeb McCall, Nick Harris (5) and Jake Samuelson. Mike Cooley, Eric Kinsey (3), Bob Henderson (5) and Tyler Hoffman. W - Harris. L - Cooley (1-2).
HELENA - Kyle Larson 0-4, McCall 2-3, Levi Samuelson 0-1, B.J. Underkofler 2-3, Quinn LeSage 1-4, Tanner Swanby 0-4, Lance Ames 2-3, Harris 2-4, J. Samuelson 3-4, Dana Driggs 1-2.
MISSOULA - Blake Honey 1-3, Hoffman 3-3, Adam Kerr 3-4, Tony Ettlin 1-4, Jesse Corbett 2-4, Cooley 0-1, Kinsey 0-1, Derek Dungan 0-1, Henderson 0-1, Jesse Ayala 2-4, David Williams 0-4, Ross Rabe 0-2.
2B - Hoffman, Kerr. 3B - Underkofler, J. Samuelson, Driggs. Honey. HR - Hoffman (1). RBIs - Underkofler, LeSage, Ames, Harris 2, J. Samuelson 4, Driggs 2. Hoffman 4, Kerr 2, Ettlin, Corbett.
Missoula 10, Helena 6
Helena 100 300 2 - 6 10 1
Missoula 000 055 x - 10 13 2
Underkofler, Driggs (5), Larson (7) and J. Samuelson. Corbett, Tyler Sant (6), Honey (7) and Carsen Bentley. W - Corbett (2-1). L - Underkofler. S - Honey.
HELENA - Larson 2-4, Driggs 0-2, McCall 0-0, Underkofler 3-4, LeSage 2-4, Swanby 1-4, Harris 1-3, Luke Denherder 0-2, Chris Connor 0-0, L. Samuelson 0-2, Ames 0-1, J. Samuelson 1-3.
MISSOULA - Honey 4-4, Hoffman 2-4, Kerr 3-4, Dungan 0-2, Sant 0-1, Rabe 0-0, Corbett 2-3, Cooley 0-2, Ayala 1-3, Williams 1-3, Bentley 0-3.
2B - Swanby. Honey 2, Hoffman, Kerr. 3B - Larson, Underkofler, Harris. Corbett. HR - LeSage. RBIs - Underkofler 2, LeSage 3, Denherder. Honey 3, Hoffman 2, Kerr, Corbett 3, Williams.