Helena Senators starting pitcher Keaton Ralston shutout the Bozeman Bucks for 7 2/3 innings Wednesday, while teammates Eamonn Byrne and Andrew Rosston posted two RBIs apiece, as the Sens opened the Montana-Alberta Class AA State Legion Tournament with a 7-3 victory over Kalispell.
Helena scored two runs in the first frame, and one tally in both the third and eighth stanzas, sandwiched around a big, three-run inning in the sixth. The Senators improve to 31-23 after their ninth win in 11 games.
Ralston struck out eight Lakers’ batsmen and walked just three while twirling a five-hitter, before being spelled with a 7-0 lead with two outs in the seventh by Tanner McMahon. McMahon and Rosston relieved the final four outs of the game.
“Keanon was so tough today, he just carved those guys up,” said coach Dave Thennis, whose Senators will next play the winner of Wednesday’s game between the Billings Scarlets and Bozeman at 7 p.m. Thursday. “And our guys played well behind him.”
Helena’s deciding runs in the sixth were provided by singles by Payton Pappas, Carter Pappas and Byrne, Rosston reaching on an error, and Ryan Arntson’s groundout.
Colin Sassano and Carter led Helena’s 12-hit attack with three singles apiece, while Kienan Stief and Payton Pappas both produced a pair of base knocks.
“Offensively we had some big hits from Rosston, Byrne, Sassano and both Pappis,” Thennis said.
Kalispell starter Sam Elliott went seven innings and took the loss. Jonas Nyman led the Lakers with two hits, a double and two RBIs.