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Billings Mustangs look toward playoffs, rally past Great Falls

Posted at 10:16 PM, Sep 06, 2018
Mustangs outfielder Mariel Bautista. (Scott Breen, MTN Sports)

(Mustangs media release)

BILLINGS – The Billings Mustangs (25-13, 40-36) ended their regular season on Thursday night with a 3-2 win over the Great Falls Voyagers (12-25, 34-41) in front of a crowd of 2,673 at Dehler Park.

For the second straight night, Great Falls grabbed an early lead with a run in the first. Romy Gonzalez led off the game with a double and scored two batters later on the RBI single of Amado Nunez. Nunez went 2-for-4 with a RBI in his 60th game of the year.

That lead was extended to 2-0 in the third when Bryan Connell singled in Lenyn Sosa. That was where Great Falls’ offense ended, however. They managed only three hits over the final six innings of the game and struck out 10 times in that span.

The Mustangs’ scoring began in the fifth when Satchel McElroy scored his first of two runs on the sacrifice fly to center from Bren Spillane. McElroy went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Trailing 2-1 into the bottom of the seventh, Billings took their first and only lead of the game with two runs on three hits and an error. Victor Ruiz and Mariel Bautista each singled in a man during the seven-batter inning.

The duo of Connor Curlis (3-0) and Edward Escoboza combined for 4.1 innings of shutout relief. For Curlis, his 3.1 innings and six strikeouts were both new season-highs. For Escoboza, his scoreless ninth earned him his first save of the season.

The Mustangs’ bullpen has now combined for 14 consecutive shutout innings going back into the Sept. 4 contest against Great Falls. In that time they have allowed just four hits and struck out 17.

With the win, Billings finished the second half with the best record in the Pioneer League at 25-13 and reached 40 wins for the second time in three years.

The 2018 Pioneer League playoffs will begin with a best-of-three Pioneer League North Divisional Series between the Mustangs and Voyagers. Game one will be played at Dehler Park in Billings on Friday, Sept. 7, with a 7:05 p.m. start time.