Back at home and facing elimination Monday night, the Helena Brewers responded with a six-run first inning en route to a 7-5 win over the Idaho Falls Chukars in Game 2 of the Pioneer League Championship Series at Helena, Mont.
With the win, the Brewers forced a decisive Game 3 that will be played Tuesday night. Right-hander Taylor Williams held the Chukars to one run on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts to pick up his second win of the postseason for Helena and Andy Hillis locked down the win with two innings of shutout relief.
Pioneer League MVP Michael Ratterree and Angel Ortega both smacked two-run doubles in the big first inning, while Nathan Orf had an RBI single and Clint Coulter drove in a run with a fielder’s choice.
Staked to a huge advantage, Williams mowed his way through six innings, allowing only a third-inning sacrifice fly to Elier Hernandez.
Helena’s uprising came off Pioneer League All-Star pitcher Patrick Conroy, who was 6-2 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP during the regular season, but is 0-2 in the postseason with a 6.17 ERA.
The Brewers added another run in the seventh when Dionis Hinojosa grounded a two-out double to right, stole third and scored on a wild pitch by Brent Bonvillain. The Brewers had a chance to do more damage, loading the bases on a two walks and an error, but Michael Turay struck out to end the threat.
Helena nearly regretted the blown opportunity.
Tyler Linehan had worked a scoreless seventh for the Brewers, but got roughed up in the eighth, allowing a runner to reach on a third-strike wild pitch, then walking the next batter. After Hunter Dozier singled to center to drive in a run, Cody Stubbs launched a three-run homer to bring Idaho Falls to within 7-5.
Hillis came in and calmed things down, allowing just one hit and fanning two while recording the final six outs.
Hinojosa, Ratterree and Ortega had two hits each for the Brewers. Ratterree has been sizzling in four playoff games this far, hitting .667 (8-for-12) with three doubles, a homer and six RBI. He has scored seven runs and been walked seven times.
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