The Helena Brewers could only try to hold on as their 4-1 lead bled into a 4-4 tie, sending their contest against the Mustangs into extra innings.
It took four nearly four bonus frames, but the Billings Mustangs completed the rally, winning 5-4 in the bottom of the 13th on Friday in the Magic City.
Billings took the lead in the top of the second with a Jake Turnbull RBI ground-out.
Then, the Brewers exploded in the top of the third.
KJ Harrison cranked a double on a fly ball to center field, scoring three runs. Gabriel Garcia followed that up with a single on a RBI grounder to center field.
But, as has been the case for the last two games, the Brewers’ bats went cold. Helena finished with its highest hit total since the start of its four-game series with Billings, recording six hits, improving one hit each night in the series.
Billings snuck a run back in the bottom of the third when J.D. Salmon-Williams grounded into a double play, scoring one run in the process.
Things quieted up until the seventh inning.
A wild pitch by Roberto Delgado gave the Mustangs their third run in the bottom of the seventh.
The Mustangs completed their comeback with a Jeter Downs sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth.
In extra innings, the Brewers battled out of a few precarious positions, but Nadir Ljatifi hit a sacrifice fly. A fielding error by Nic Pierre allowed the run to come in, and seal the game for the Brewers.
While Pierre’s blunder may have been the most costly, the Brewers were saddled by mistakes all night. Helena committed five errors in the game. Of the Mustangs five runs, only two were earned.
Michael Petersen made the start for the Brewers and had a quality outing on the mound. He pitched five innings, giving up one earned run, struck out three and walked two.
Helena is now 0-3 in Billings over the course of this series.
Helena’s season finale is Saturday at 6:05 p.m. in Billings, where the Brewers have a chance to play spoiler. If Billings wins and Great Falls loses, the Mustangs will earn a trip to the playoffs.
-- Erik C. Anderson