MISSOULA – A big fourth inning and a shut-down bullpen has the Great Falls Voyagers moving on to the Pioneer League Championship Series, while the Missoula Osprey see their season end at home in Ogren-Park Allegiance Field.
Great Falls dug out of a 3-0 hole with a six-run fourth inning and led the rest of the way. The Voyagers’ 8-5 victory, coupled with Sunday’s 7-4 win in Great Falls, finished a sweep in the best-of-three North Division series.
Missoula struck first in the bottom of the third on a sac fly by Keshawn Lynch, followed immediately by a two-run home run by Andy Yerzy to put the Osprey up 3-0.
The Os’ 17-year-old Elvis Luciano had pitched three shutout innings, giving up only a couple hits in his first start with Missoula. But it all came unraveled in the fourth.
Great Falls started with back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases. Nate Nolan hit an RBI groundout to short, David Cronen followed with an RBI double to right, then Nolan Brown singled in another run to tie the game 3-3, and end the day for Luciano.
Casey Kulina came in to try and stop the bleeding, but the first batter he faced provided the biggest hit of the night. Craig Dedelow drilled a three-run homer to right to push the Voyagers to their first lead 6-3.
Missoula tried to start a comeback in the bottom of the fourth. Joel Novas drove in a run with a single. But the next batter, Gabriel Maciel, grounded into a double play with one out and runners on the corners to end the threat.
The Voyagers extended the lead again in the top of the fifth. Nolan hit a two-out, two-run home run to left to give the Voyagers their largest lead, 8-4.
Eduardo Diaz led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer to cut it back to 8-5, but the Osprey never advanced a runner past second base after that.
Sean Renzi pitched two scoreless innings, keeping the Voyagers on top through the seventh and eighth innings without giving up a hit. Will Kincanon did allow a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth, but retired the final three batters for the victory.
Great Falls now advances to play Ogden in the Championship Series. The Raptors swept the Orem Owlz in the South Division series, winning 9-4 on Sunday and 7-3 on Monday.
Game 1 of the best-of-three series plays in Ogden on Thursday. Great Falls will host Game 2 on Saturday and, if necessary, Game 3 on Sunday.