BILLINGS – The Billings Mustangs (1-0) capitalized on late offense on Friday to defeat the Missoula Osprey (0-1) 6-5 in front of 3,204 at Dehler Park.
Jared Solomon got the start on the mound for the Mustangs and threw four solid innings on Opening Day. The right-hander from Millville, Pennsylvania, allowed two runs on three hits while striking out four.
The Osprey opened the scoring in the top of the first with a Brandon Leyton solo homerun. It would be one of just six hits they managed on Friday, five of them being for extra bases.
The Mustangs managed their first lead in the third when two runs crossed the plate off Deyni Olivero. Outside of the third inning, the Missoula starter faced the minimum in his five innings of work. He would not receive a decision. Carlos Rivero flew out to left to score Raul Wallace for the first Mustang run of the year before Mariel Bautista lined an RBI triple to left-center to give them the lead. Bautista finished off the night 2-for-3 with a triple, RBI, two runs, a walk and a stolen base.
Two Mustangs would make their professional debuts on the mound, combining for one and one-third innings of relief. Ryan Campbell threw a perfect fifth, but Matt Pidich would struggle to find outs in the sixth. He allowed three runs before being pulled after recording one out.
Trailing 5-2, Billings would battle back over the next three innings. Pabel Manzanero’s two-run homer drew them within one. He was 2-for-4 with three RBI Friday night.
Down by just one run in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Mustangs completed the three-run comeback with a pair of singles. Manzanero singled in Bautista before Jay Schuyler, making his professional debut singled to right to score Bren Spillane and seal the win. Schuyler was 2-for-4 including the game-winning hit.
Connor Bennett and Jeremy Kivel (1-0) combined to throw three and two-thirds of hitless baseball to close the game. Kivel, making his first appearance since September of 2016 retired all five batters he saw, including three strikeouts.
The Mustangs and the Osprey face off in the second game of their four-game series Saturday at Dehler Park. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.