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HELENA — It was a pitcher's duel for 2½ innings.

Until Capital High's bats warmed up and the Bruins won 12-2 over rival Helena.

Capital took a slim 1-0 lead over Helena heading into the bottom of the third frame in the season's second crosstown softball game at Northwest Park on Tuesday.

The Bruins then pushed across three runs on three Helena errors, and a two-RBI single by April Davis to go up 4-0.

Next the Bruins erupted for seven in the fourth stanza — all of which came after two outs — highlighted by Taylor Mathews' towering two-run homer over the the fence in left-centerfield.

CHS sent 11 batters to the plate during the onslaught, while pounding out seven hits in the inning, four of which went for extra bases.

At this point, with an 11-0 lead heading into the fifth, it appeared that the hosts might run-rule their counterparts in five.

But the Bengals were not ready to quit.

The visitors were able to extend the game for another inning, when they pushed across two tallies in the top of the inning.

Sam Matteucci ripped an RBI double to right scoring Nicole Price to break up Shelby Martin's shutout. After advancing to third, she raced home on a wild pitch to help breath some life into the Bengals.

The game went into the bottom of the sixth at 11-2, but then Capital ended things on a two-out double by Madi McMahon, plating Morgan Rehm with the final run.

The win moves the undefeated, and Western AA-leading, Bruins to 7-0 overall, and 5-0 in conference play. Helena, which also dropped the season's first intra-city tilt 8-3, slips to 7-5, 5-2.

"I thought we really played together well as a team, and it's always nice to beat them," said CHS third baseman Kacie Gross, who went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

The modest Gross — regarded as one of conference's best defensive players at  third base — said she "didn't have her best game" personally, adding "there's always room for improvement."

Nine different Bruins stroked 12 hits, paced by Mathews, Davis and Gross, at two base knocks each. Davis finished with five RBIs and a triple, while Nicole Ames laced a two-run double.

"I'm delighted with our play today, a lot of different girls had big hits ... it wasn't just the 'Taylor and Shelby Show', although they had a great game too," CHS coach Mike Miller said. "The defense was excellent, and Shelby's getting better every outing."

Martin threw a five-hitter, striking out 11 Helena batters without giving up a walk. Prior to Helena's scoring in the fifth, she had worked herself out of a bases loaded jam with one out in the second, fanning the next batters to end the inning.

"The rise ball and change-ups were working best," said Martin, who struck out the side in the second and sixth innings.

Helena second baseman Jamie Pickens was the lone visitor with a multi-hit game with two singles.

Mariah English started in the circle for the Bengals and worked 3⅔ innings in the loss. She gave up seven hits and 10 runs, although four of those were unearned.

English fanned two and walked one. Freshman Tyliegh Burchard relieved the last two frames and permitted five hits and two runs.

"I'm proud of the way we competed at the end of the game and didn't give up, but we are just not finding that spark early enough against these good teams. And Capital's a good team," Helena coach Ryan Schulte said. "Seems like we're waiting for things to happen, instead of going out and making things happen.

"So as coaches, it's our job to figure out how to get our team to that point."

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Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt.synness@lee.net or curt52synness@gmail.com

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