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Hopkins the walk-off hero in Billings Mustangs’ 2nd straight shutout

Posted at 9:24 PM, Jul 23, 2019
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text" id="caption-attachment-121544">TJ Hopkins delivered a walk-off single for the game’s only run in a Mustangs win over Great Falls. (Billings Mustangs photo)

(Editor’s note: Mustangs media release)

BILLINGS — For the second straight night, the Billings Mustangs (15-21) shut out the Great Falls Voyagers (13-21), topping Great Falls 1-0 on the walk-off single of TJ Hopkins in front of 2,484 at Dehler Park. It was the first walk-off win of the season for the Mustangs.

Pitching dominated the game as the evening went scoreless into the bottom of the ninth inning. Omar Conoropo threw five shutout innings in the start for the Mustangs, giving up two hits, not issuing a walk and striking out three. He was backed up by two-inning relief appearances from Johnnie Schneider and Ryan Dunne (1-2) who would follow suit. Dunne retired all six batters he saw, striking out the side in the ninth, to earn his first win.

The Mustangs’ offense had nine straight batters set down between the first and fourth innings and 11 consecutive between the fifth and end of the eighth innings. Chase Solesky delivered four shutout innings in the start for Great Falls, but would leave just as Conoropo did with no decision.

Going to the bottom of the ninth in a 0-0 tie, Valentin Martinez led off for the Mustangs. In a full count, Martinez drove a single to left field for the Mustangs’ first baserunner in 12 batters. Quin Cotton then entered the game to run for Martinez.

Reyny Reyes came to the plate with a man at first and nobody out fully prepared to lay down a sacrifice bunt and move Cotton over. He would not need to, however, as Nick Johnson (0-2) issued two straight wild pitches to put Cotton at third base representing the winning run with zero outs. Reyes was consequently intentionally walked as was Nate Scantlin behind him to load the bases and give the Voyagers a force option at the plate.

TJ Hopkins worked into a full count trying to get something into the outfield. The center fielder got a hold of a 3-2 fastball that he drove deep to right field that fell in over the head of Luis Mieses to give the Mustangs a walk-off 1-0 win, their first walk-off win of the season. Hopkins had the only multi-hit night of the game for either side, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI and his team-best fifth stolen base.

The Mustangs have now shut out the Voyagers in consecutive games and have earned a shutout win in three of the last five nights. They have five shutout wins on the season, three of which have come against the Great Falls Voyagers.

The Mustangs will look for the series sweep over Great Falls Wednesday, July 24. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. MDT at Dehler Park.