HELENA — For the second time in three years, the Helena Senators are Keith Sell Tournament Champions. A 12-1 win over the Glacier Twins on Monday afternoon sealed that fact, putting a cherry on top of a 5-0 tournament record for the Senators.
Helena sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring four times. With their offensive showcase carrying over from Sunday night’s win, Helena needed just five innings to run-rule Glacier and take the trophy.
“I’ve been saying all year that we’re a team that can really swing it,” Jon Burnett told 406mtsports.com. “We’ve just mainly been doing it in BP and not in the games. Whatever that spark was, hopefully we can keep that rolling, because we came out ready to hit today. Played all aspects of the game and showed out on the field.”
Three of the four tournament awards were claimed by Senators, including overall MVP. Tyler Tenney took home that honor after a 6-for-7 effort at the plate with eight RBI and an OPS north of 2.000.
Tenney also tossed a seven-inning complete game on the mound Friday against Great Falls, allowing just six hits and two earned runs. The accolade, and the Senators’ win, sent a throng of kids Tenney’s way after the game asking for autographed baseballs.
“It always feels great when a little kid comes up to you after a game asking you to sign a baseball,” Tenney said.
Glacier’s Stevyn Andrachick won Defensive MVP honors with Helena’s Michael Hurlbert earning the Offensive MVP award. Cade Coate tossed five innings in the championship game, allowing just three hits and an earned run. His six-pitch first inning helped set the tone for Helena early against a Twins squad that entered the game with 38 wins on the year.
“They’re a good, solid squad,” Burnett said of Glacier. “We knew they weren’t going to hand us one again, so we had to execute. We got a couple bunts down, hit the ball hard. Cade goes out and puts a zero on the board with six pitches in the first inning and then we come out and barrel some balls up. It kinda takes a lot of the pressure off and I think the guys played free from there.”
Victor Scott and Ethan Keintz both hit their first over-the-wall home run of the season on Monday. Helena’s sixth and seventh long-balls of the year opened the scoring in the third and fourth innings and were exclamation points to the 13 hits the Senators compiled in just four trips to the plate.
“I think after [Sunday] night’s game we felt like things started to click,” Tenney said. “We finally got our bats going and I think it rolled over into today. We played pretty good defense, great pitching by Cade today. He just gave us chances to make outs for him.”
Matt Burton and Scott each ended up with three hits and Tenney chipped in a trio of RBI with hits in the first and second innings. Keintz was also 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Caden Sell, the grandson of Keith Sell, ripped a double to lead-off the second inning and was credited with an RBI when he walked in the fourth. For Caden, it is the second time winning the tournament with the Senators. In 2019, Keith threw out the first pitch with Caden catching, but this year, Caden threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the tournament with his dad, Mike, catching.
“That first pitch, if one of my family members throws that first pitch, we’re usually lucky with it,” Caden said.
The win was Helena’s 38th overall and its 10th-straight, establishing a new longest winning streak for the season. The Senators have now lost just once in their last 13 games and have scored 77 runs over their last seven contests.
Glacier ended pool play 2-2 after a 12-6 loss to Great Falls on Sunday, setting up an exciting championship game against undefeated Helena.
“We’ve played pretty well the last four games in the tournament,” Twins head coach Kevin Slaybaugh said about Sunday’s games. “Our pitching kinda let us down a little bit today, but we’ve been swinging it and doing a lot of things right. [If] we get some pitching straightened out, we’ll be alright.”
Glacier scored runs in the game’s first fourth innings, but still trailed by a trio of runs after four innings. With the two-hour tournament time limit approaching, the contest was cut to five innings but saw Great Falls tack on three more runs in the home half of the frame.
The Twins split their games on Sunday, beating Billings 10-5 with seven unanswered runs in the middle frames. Glacier ended Saturday with a walk-off loss to Helena on an error and run-ruled Butte in its first game of the tournament on Friday.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Slaybaugh said of the loss to Helena. “I was pretty sure we were going to win that game. That little error there at the end cost us. It was a pretty well-played game by both of us.”
Zach Veneman finished the loss 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Jacob Polumbus and Danny Dunn each picked up two hits and an RBI. Despite banging out 11 hits, Glacier committed three errors in its loss to the Chargers. Great Falls’ Josh Banderob went the full five innings and allowed 11 hits, six runs (four earned) and struck out a batter.
Glacier used three pitchers to navigate the contest, with Mason Peters soaking up three innings on 65 pitches.
“We need to throw strikes and play defense,” Slaybaugh said ahead of the championship game against Helena. “Our sticks are going to be there, so throw strikes, play defense.”
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