(Mustangs media release)
MISSOULA – The Billings Mustangs (20-11, 35-34) pulled out a 17-11 win in 10 innings over the Missoula Osprey (16-14, 35-33) on Thursday in front of 1,474 at Ogren Park Allegiance Field.
Missoula found runs early, scoring in each of the first four innings of the game. Zach Almond singled in Alek Thomas in the first and Brandon Leyton would homer for the second straight night in the 2nd. The solo shot was the sixth home run of the year for Leyton.
Blaze Alexander led off the third with a two-base reach on the throwing error of Carlos Rivero. He would score three batters later on the RBI single of Kristian Robinson to make it a 3-0 Osprey lead after three innings. The teams would combine for nine total errors, five being committed by Missoula; the most committed by a Billings opponent this season.
The Osprey then blew things open with three runs in the fourth. Thomas added in an RBI double and the Mustangs’ infield committed two more errors to make it a 6-0 Osprey lead heading to the fifth. Adrian Rodriguez was knocked out of the game in the inning. He would throw 3.2 innings in the start, giving up six runs on seven hits while striking out a season-high seven batters.
Trailing 6-0 going to the fifth, the Mustangs completely erased the deficit in the inning. They would start the frame with three consecutive singles to bring in Rivero on Schuyler’s RBI single, his third hit of the day. After Mariel Bautista reached on a fielder’s choice and a fourth Osprey error, the bases would be loaded to set the stage for Pabel Manzanero. Manzanero would crush a grand slam to center field, the fourth grand slam of the season for the Mustangs to draw them within one. It was Manzanero’s team-best ninth home run of the season. After doubling, Drew Mount would score on a wild pitch to tie the game and Rivero would single for the second time in the inning to give the Mustangs their first lead of the night, 7-6. 11 batters came to the plate in the fifth, scoring seven runs on six hits.
The seventh inning provided fireworks on both sides of the baseball. Billings opened the inning by extending their lead to three with two runs on two hits. Dylan Harris doubled in Mount and scored himself after two wild pitches.
The Osprey were not done having their say, however. David Sanchez hit the second grand slam of the night in the bottom of the seventh for Missoula to overcome a three-run deficit and take a 10-9 lead to the eighth.
Mariel Bautista would homer with two outs in the eighth to tie the game, the final run scored before extras.
Both Connor Ryan and Andrew McDonald (3-2) provided two innings of shutout relief for Billings.
The Mustangs would not miss on another big opportunity, scoring seven runs in the 10th to run away with the game in their second trip to extra innings in as many nights. Mariel Bautista singled in two runs while Drew Mount doubled in two in the inning. The 17 runs was a new season-high for offense.
Matt Pidich sealed the deal by retiring the side in the bottom of the 10th, only allowing in the designated runner.
Jay Schuyler finished the game with a career-high four hits, going 4-for-5 with a double, two runs, one RBI and a walk.
The Mustangs now take a 3.5 game lead in the division into the series finale with seven games left to play in the regular season. They will face Missoula for the final time Friday night at Ogren Park Allegiance Field. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.