Chelsea defeats Helena to win Class 6A Area 8 title
By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer
HELENA – The past few seasons, the Helena Huskies have had a solid grasp on the Class 6A Area 8 standings but in 2019, the Chelsea Hornets emerged to win the regular season area championship by taking down the Huskies 8-2 on Wednesday, April 10.
A dogpile celebration ensued on the infield grass between first and second base as the Hornets continue to have an outstanding season that will no doubt continue into the playoffs.
Led by solid pitching and timely hitting, Chelsea kept Helena in check by holding the Huskies to two runs and eight runners left on base in the game.
Chelsea starting pitching Connor Ball was given the nod on the mound as he has led the Hornets to five wins while recording 58 strikeouts on the season coming into the game against Helena.
Ball continued his solid pitching against Helena by going 5.2 innings allowing just two earned runs while striking out six.
It was Helena that broke the scoreless game in the bottom of the second inning when Nick Thompson roped a two out double to left field to score JC Wilburn to make it 1-0 Huskies.
A few innings later, it was Chelsea’s turn to get on the scoreboard as Brady Morgan hit an RBI single to score Will Peacock to tie the game 1-1.
One batter later, Garrett Frye singled to score Jacob Tinnell to put the Hornets ahead 2-1.
Chelsea would tack on one run on a bases loaded walk in the top of the fifth inning and another run on a Nolan Forehand RBI double to extend its lead to 4-1 in the top of the sixth inning.
A critical part of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Helena made a push to potentially tie or take the lead, but Chelsea reliever Tinnell got the Hornets out of the jam.
Helena recorded a single, pop out, walk and a lineout to start the bottom of the sixth inning. The fifth batter in the inning was Will Griffith who came to the plate and delivered an RBI single to cut Chelsea’s lead to 4-2.
Thompson would follow Griffith with a single to load the bases. The next at bat was crucial as a single could tie the game or a ball hit to the gap could’ve given Helena a one run lead.
With no bases open, Chelsea opted to bring Tinnell into the game who delivered a strikeout on a 2-2 count to preserve the Hornets’ two-run lead.
In the top half of the seventh inning, Chelsea would tack on four insurance runs thanks to a sacrifice fly, and back-to-back singles to make it 8-2.
Needing six runs to force extra innings, Helena was unable to rally as Tinnell came back onto the mound to finish the game. Tinnell recorded three strikeouts and allowed just one hit while recording the final four outs.
At the plate, the Hornets were led by Forehand who drove in three runs on three hits while Frye finished with two RBIs and drew two walks.
Helena and Chelsea will meet again on Thursday, April 11 for the final regular season area game. A Helena loss would force a play-in game between the Huskies and Pelham for the final playoff spot.
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