HELENA —The Helena Reps trailed the Livingston Braves 5-2 heading into their last at-bat, and rallied for two runs to get within one in the bottom of the seventh inning, before the Braves sealed the win 5-4 on Thursday.
The game was the last contest of the night during the opening round American Legion Class A Southern District baseball tournament at Kindrick Legion Field.
Livingston will now play at 7 p.m. Friday against Gallatin Valley, while Helena will go up against Butte at 1 p.m. in an elimination contest.
The Braves' deciding runs were scored in the top of the sixth, on back-to-back RBI singles by Cade Busby and Conner Busby. That gave Livingston a 5-1 lead.
Helena got a run in their half of the inning when Hunter Lindgren drove a triple all the way to wall in left centerfield.
In the seventh, the Reps went down swinging. Ethan Keintz scored on a balk, and Chase Neilsen came home on an infield error.
But then Braves' reliever Ethan Bullock recorded the last out for the save.
Livingston starter Sage McMinn fired a four-hitter in his six innings on the hill, allowing two runs, one of which was unearned. He struck out nine and walked four.
"Sage was outstanding, and overall this was a fabulous team performance for us," Livingston coach Matt Schad said. "We played a full seven innings which is one of our goals, we played together as a team, and we kept our cool after the error in the seventh, which is another goal."
The Braves out-hit the Reps 12-5, led by Clayton Busby, McMinn, Bullock, and Wyatt Saile, all with two hits apiece.
Nielsen was the lone Helena player with more than one hit, collecting two singles. Also posting base knocks were Keintz and Tyler Tenney.
Helena starter Dylan Steinmetz sustained the loss, going 5.1 innings and allowing 10 hits and five runs. He fanned five and walked two. Peyton Witham relieved the last 1⅔ scoreless frames.
"Credit Livingston and McMinn, he's their guy, a real tough pitcher," Reps coach Dane Broadhead said. "We just didn't respond. But the boys showed some fight in those last two innings.
"So now we flush this one, and come out (Friday) and play like the season's on the line ... because it is."