Helena baseball starts season 2-0

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – The long awaited return to the diamond finally came on Saturday, Feb. 13 for the Helena Huskies, and they couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2021 baseball season.

After last year ended early due to COVID-19, the Huskies have been itching to get back to the field, and they finally did so with two impressive victories to open the season.

Helena took on Northridge in a double header at the Hoover Met Sports Complex and won the two games by a combined 9-3, taking the opener 3-1 and the second game 6-2.

In the opening game of the season, Helena scored two runs in the second inning to make the difference. After loading the bases with no outs, a fielder’s choice allowed Austin Collins to score after he led the inning off with a walk.

Shortly after, another fielder’s choice allowed Jacob Peters to cross the plate for a 2-0 advantage. The two RBIs in the inning came from Logan Green and Noah Gwin.

That was plenty of cushion for starting pitcher Jack Freeman, who was almost flawless on the mound.

The righty tossed a complete game with his only blemish coming in the top of the fourth when he allowed one run to cross the plate. That was the only run Northridge scored in the loss, while Freeman struck out eight, gave up four hits and didn’t allow a walk.

He finished the game with 92 pitches.

Thanks to more strong play from leadoff hitters in the bottom of the fifth, Helena was able to add an insurance run. The Huskies got a lead-off single from Brody Moss and a walk from Brandon Leake to put two aboard with no outs.

That was followed by a sac bunt from McGwire Turner to move both into scoring position. A sac fly from Tyler Jon Santos then brought home the Huskies’ third run of the game to make it a two-run game and give them the cushion they needed to close out the win.

Five different players picked up hits in the win, while Gwin, Santos and Green had the RBIs.

Helena, however, was just getting warmed up.

The second game saw their bats wake up a bit more, which led to eight hits and a strong start through the first three innings.

Leake and Green were both just getting their days started in the first game, as they came back and led the Huskies early in the second game of the doubleheader.

After Brody Moss led the second matchup off with a double, Leake stepped to the plate and drove Moss home with an RBI  single to make it 1-0.

Two outs were subsequently put on the board, but a single from Green kept the inning alive and moved Leake to third.

That allowed him to score during Ryan Storey’s at bat thanks to a passed ball before the inning came to an end with the Huskies in front 2-0.

Following a quiet second inning, the Huskies came back in the bottom of the third with a walk from Moss and a single from Leake to kick start another inning.

After one out was made, Santos stepped to the plate and drove home moss with an RBI single, while Green followed with an RBI single of his own to make it 4-0 Huskies through three.

Northridge cut into the deficit in the top of the fifth when back-to-back singles ended with two runs crossing the plate when an error was made by pitcher Seth Gregory.

But those were the only two runs Northridge scored, as Gregory tossed a solid 4 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits.

Colton Willmon finished off the game allowing just one hit and one walk over the final two innings.

More important, Helena squashed any gained momentum Northridge earned in the top of the fifth with two more runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning.

Turner had an RBI double in the inning, while Green added an RBI single to make it 6-2.

Green finished the game 3-for-3 with two RBIs, while Leake finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Turner and Santos also added RBIs.