In the bottom of the sixth inning and trailing Class A Belgrade 5-3, Helena High shortstop Taylor Reisbeck stepped to the plate with runners on second and third base.
Reisbeck proceeded to loft a towering fly ball to deep left field, which the outfielder jumped for at the fence. As the Panther player crashed over Mihelish Field’s collapsible 5-foot plastic fence, the ball bounced back toward the outer fence. This brought the entire Helena team and its hometown fans to their feet, loudly cheering what they viewed as a three-run home run.
But hold the phone.
Bengal teammates Sarah Bryson and Darcy Ryan had already crossed the plate, and Reisbeck was rounding third and headed for home, when the home plate umpire waved off the homer, signaling that the ball had bounced before reaching the fence.
The ground-rule double sent Ryan back to third base and put Reisbeck back on second. Instead of leading 6-5, the Bengals still trailed 5-4.
Coach John Hawe argued the controversial call for several minutes, leading to his ejection from the game.
Helena (3-9) was then unable to score again, while Belgrade erupted for five runs in the top of the seventh and pulled away for a 10-4 win.
“I don’t want to talk about the (umpire’s) call, or the ejection,” Hawe said after the game. “What I will say is that up until the seventh inning, it was a close, very well-played game, by both teams.
“We were putting the bat on the ball and moving runners along, and Mac (MacKenzie Donnelly) was pitching a good game.”
The visitors outhit the Bengals 14-10, led by Taylor Hill, who went 3 for 4, with a home run and three runs batted in. Panther teammates Morgan Wandler and Taylor Johnson each stroked a double, with two RBIs.
Helena was paced by Reisbeck, Ryan and Kerstie Ward, at two base knocks apiece.
Justin Taylor pitched the win, while Donnelly, who was working on a seven-hitter over the first six innings, sustained the defeat.
Belgrade 300 020 5 — 10 14 4
Helena 101 101 0 — 4 10 3
Justine Taylor and Taylor Hill; MacKenzie Donnelly, Nicole Pocklington (7) and Kerstie Ward. W - Taylor, L - Donnelly.
BELGRADE - Taylor 2-5, Kristina West 2-4, Morgan Wandler 1-4, Taylor Johnson 2-4, Taylor Hill 3-4, Allison Alstrom 2-4, Autumn Rollins 0-4, Riley Cygan 2-4, Marina Layman 0-4, Rachel Salsbury (Flex).
HELENA (3-9) - Darcy Ryan 2-3, Taylor Reisbeck 2-4, Kerstie Ward 2-4, Kennar Ward 1-4, Donnelly 1-4, Alex Pappas 0-3, Sarah Bryson 1-2, Kylie MacDonald 1-3, Abby Thompson 0-3.
2B - West, Wandler, Johnson, Reisbeck; HR - Hill; RBIs - Hill 3, Wandler 2, Johnson 2, West, Alstrom, Donnelly, Ryan, Reisbeck.