From the day he arrived in western Montana, Keshawn Lynch has been a 5 foot, 9 inch firecracker for the Missoula Osprey.
On Monday he helped ignite the largest crowd in O's franchise history, going 4 for 5 with two RBIs in a 12-5 win over the Helena Brewers at Ogren-Allegiance Park. A total of 4,919 fans turned out in 90-degree weather for baseball and a fireworks show, breaking the previous standard of 4,408 established last July.
"That's special," said Lynch, a 20-year-old taken in the 14th round of the MLB Draft in June. "I love playing in front of these fans. It gives me more energy. Missoula is a great town with great fans and they love baseball."
Lynch has been special since taking the field for his first Pioneer League game on June 23. His .424 batting average is the best among Missoula regulars and it's not even close.
"I'm just staying humble and taking it day by day," said the Florida native, who played for State College of Florida last spring. "You never know what can happen, so I play as hard as I can every day.
"There's no secrets. See the ball and hit the ball."
The Osprey broke a 5-5 tie with a game-defining four-run explosion in the seventh, aided by four hits and an error. Eduardo Diaz laced a single up the middle to give the hosts a 6-5 edge. Lynch and Dominic Miroglio followed with RBI singles.
Lynch added another RBI hit as part of a three-run eighth, taking all the suspense out of a game that was up for grabs after six and a half frames.
The Osprey jumped on Helena starter Karsen Lindell in the first. Gabriel Maciel and Lynch singled and came in to score on a two-out base hit by Kyle Smith.
Payton Henry dinged Osprey starter Tyler Vail for a two-run homer in the third but the O's answered with two in the bottom half. Eduardo Diaz smacked an RBI double down the third base line and later came in to score.
The Brewers took their first lead since the opening game of the series Saturday with a run in the sixth. Missoula knotted it up at 5-5 with two outs in the the bottom half on Miroglio's bad-hop single to left that scored Lynch.
With the win Missoula pulled into a tie with Helena for second place in the North Division standings at 7-8. Billings holds a three-game lead with its mark of 10-5.
The Osprey have been in existence sine 1999. The fact they've attendance records the past two seasons is a tribute to the fans, who watched the O's win the Pioneer League championship two years ago.
Four Missoula players had multiple hits Monday. Joining Lynch were Eduardo Diaz with three hits and two RBIs, Andy Yerzy with two hits and three RBIs and Miroglio with two hits and two RBIs.
Missoula's next scheduled home game is Thursday night.
NOTES: Missoula manager Mike Benjamin will go with ace Luis Madero as his starting pitcher Tuesday night at Great Falls. He boasts a 2-0 record and 3.00 earned run average. ... The Osprey dropped a pair in Great Falls last week. ... Three former Osprey will play in the MLB All-Star game, including Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks and and Ender Inciarte of the Atlanta Braves.