GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Billings Mustangs (12-18) fell just short in their bid to overcome a seven-run deficit on Tuesday, falling 8-7 to the Grand Junction Rockies (16-14) in front of 1,653 at Suplizio Field.
For the third straight game, the Rockies managed to score multiple runs in the first. This time they would utilize walks to do so, being dealt three free passes in the inning. Colin Simpson singled to center to score two and get the Rockies up 2-0 after the first.
Grand Junction stretched that lead out in the fourth, capitalizing on two-out hitting from the bottom of their lineup. Turner Brown tripled down the right field line to score Jacob Barnwell and scored himself on a passed ball during the next at-bat, extending the Rockies’ lead to 4-0.
The Mustangs broke through for their first run in the top of the sixth. After scoring just one run over their previous 17 innings at the plate, Billings got three singles from their first four batters of the inning. Quincy McAfee singled up the middle with two outs to score Nate Scantlin and cut the deficit to 5-1.
The Rockies had their largest offensive inning of the night in the sixth when they plated three runs off two Mustangs pitchers. Julio Carreras led off the inning with a solo HR to left, his third homer of the season. Colin Simpson drove a single to left three batters later that scored a run and Simpson came in on the second wild pitch of the inning later in the sixth, pushing the Rockies to their largest lead of the night at 8-1.
Ryan Dunne tied his career-high with three innings of relief. The right-hander allowed one run on one hit, walking one and retiring the last six batters he saw. It was just the second time in his professional career he has thrown three innings out of the bullpen.
Trailing by seven going to the top of the ninth inning, the Mustangs would not go down easily. The first six batters to the plate for Billings would all reach and score, knocking Ever Moya out of the game. Cash Case hit a grand slam to right, the first of the year for a Mustang, to bring Billings within two runs. Nate Scantlin tripled in the next at-bat and scored on a wild pitch to make it a one-run game and put the tying run at the plate. After six consecutive reached to start the inning, the final three batters for the Mustangs would all be retired to end the game just short of the comeback.
The Mustangs and the Rockies will play the finale of their four-game series Wednesday, July 17, in Grand Junction. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. MDT at Suplizio Field.