The Helena Brewers jumped out to a five-run lead and hung on to beat the Billings Mustangs 5-4 at Dehler Park on Tuesday afternoon. moving the Brewers just two games back of the first-place Mustangs in the Pioneer League North Division.
The Brewers (8-8) scored all of their runs in the first inning, with the aid of just two hits. Facing Mac Sceroler -- making his professional debut -- Chad McClanahan and Jay Feliciano both walked to put two men on base with one out. Brent Diaz then struck out swinging before Gabriel Garcia walked to load the bases. Reigning Pioneer League Player of the Week Zach Clark followed with an infield single that brought in McClanahan to make it 1-0 Brewers.
Then, Yeraldy Martinez came up to bat and delivered the biggest hit of the ball game, a grand slam to right field that made it 5-0 Brewers. It was Martinez’s second home run of the season and the fourth grand slam hit by a Helena Brewer in 16 games.
After the Martinez slam, Billings pitching sat down 23 of the next 24 Brewer batters. The Brewers' lone hit the rest of the game came with one out in the third, and Helena would manage just two more base runners after that, both on walks in the ninth inning.
Staked to the five-run lead, Helena starter Carlos Herrera (2-0) pounded the strike zone, fanning six batters in five innings of work. The right-hander allowed three runs off four hits, including two solo home runs while issuing just two walks.
Relievers Rodrigo Benoit and Andrew Vernon both earned holds for their effort in the game. Benoit tossed two innings, allowing one run off two hits while not walking a batter and striking out five. Vernon allowed two runners to get on base in the eighth on a walk and a hit, but struck out the next two batters to strand the tying run at third.
Parker Bean picked up his first save of the season by pitching a perfect ninth, striking out two batters. In total, Billings and Helena combined to strike out 34 times in the game, with every batter striking out at least once.
Helena concludes a seven-game road trip on Wednesday night against the Mustangs in a game set to begin at 7:05 p.m.. The Brewers will send RHP Harold Chirino (1-1, 5.27 ERA) to the mound against RHP Jhon De Jesus (0-1, 2.31).