(Billings Mustangs release)
BILLINGS – The Billings Mustangs (0-2) rallied late against the Idaho Falls Chukars (2-0), but came up short, losing 4-3 in front of 3,392 at Dehler Park.
Miguel Medrano baffled Idaho Falls hitters for five innings in his Pioneer League debut, retiring the first 13 batters he saw before Chris Hudgins was able to break up his perfect game with one out in the top of the fifth. Medrano finished his night with five shutout innings of work, allowing one hit and striking out five.
The Mustangs’ offense backed Medrano up early with a run in each of the first two innings off Adrian Alcantara (1-0). Jonathan Willems tripled to center in the first and scored on the sacrifice fly of Cash Case in the next at-bat to give Billings an early 1-0 advantage.
That lead was extended in the second inning when TJ Hopkins reached on a four-pitch walk, stole second and came around to score on the RBI single of Leonardo Seminati. It was the first of three hits for Seminati who finished 3-for-4 with an RBI.
Leading 2-0, Billings held that advantage into the sixth when Idaho Falls finally broke through for their first runs. Maikel Garcia singled in a run before Juan Carlos Negret launched a two-run home run to left field to give the Chukars a 3-2 lead.
The Chukars’ lead grew in the seventh with an RBI single from Isaiah Henry to capitalize on a throwing error from Billings.
Trailing 4-2 going to the bottom of the ninth, the Mustangs had one last push in them. Carlos Reina reached to lead off the inning after he was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Seminati added on his third and final hit of the game putting men at first and second. Along with Hopkins, Quincy McAfee made his professional debut Saturday, lining a single to right in the bottom of the ninth to score Reina and put the tying run at third for the Mustangs. It was not to be, however, as Malcolm Van Buren struck out Quin Cotton to end the game and preserve the win.
The Mustangs will look to avoid the series sweep on Sunday against the Idaho Falls Chukars in game three of their season-opening matchup. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. MDT at Dehler Park.