Billings Avoids Sweep, Earns Playoff Spot
Great Falls, MT - The Voyagers now have a playoff opponent for the Pioneer League divisional round after Billings won the series finale 7-3 Monday night at Centene Stadium.
Great Falls (34-38, 12-22) claimed two of three in the series and still owns a 7-6 lead in the season series against the Mustangs with three regular season games remaining. The Voyagers finished the 2018 home slate with a 22-15 record. Billings (37-36, 22-13) went 17-21 on the road this season. The two clubs begin postseason play with game one Friday night in Billings and game two set for Saturday night in Great Falls. If necessary, game three will also be in Great Falls. The Mustangs swept the Voyagers the last time they squared off in a playoff series back in 2016.
Billings opened the scoring with a two-run top of the third to take an early lead. Reniel Ozuna walked to lead it off and then stole second. With one out, a dropped third strike allowed Dylan Harris to reach base. An errant throw by the pitcher on a pickoff attempt brought the first run home, and a sacrifice fly to right by Jay Schuyler made it 2-0.
The Voyagers took a short-lived lead with a three-run bottom of the third. Gunnar Troutwine punched a one-out, solo home run deep to right-center field for his second of the season. Micah Coffey followed the dinger with a double laced up the left field line and into the corner. Romy Gonzalez reached on an infield single to short. After Lenyn Sosa grounded out to the first baseman, a wild throw from the pitcher over to third base on the same play went behind the bag and allowed both Coffey and Gonzalez to race home for a 3-2 lead.
The Mustangs tied the contest with a run in the fourth, and they reclaimed the lead for good with a four-spot in the top of the eighth. Billings sent nine men to the plate in the eighth. Mariel Bautista led off with a walk. Pabel Manzanero reached on a ground ball error at third. Drew Mount singled to left. Juan Martinez broke the tie with an RBI single to left. After a strikeout, Reniel Ozuna made it 6-3 with a two-run single to right-center. The final run of the game scored on a Miguel Hernandez groundout to short. The Voyagers lined into two double plays over the last two innings.
Billings outhit Great Falls 7-to-5. Juan Martinez collected two hits to pace the Mustangs. For the Voyagers, Gunnar Troutwine walked twice in addition to the homer. Amado Nunez pushed his hitting streak to 12 with an infield single. The 12-game streak has matched Nunez's longest of the season.
On the mound, Ryan Dunne posted the win in relief. Dunne (2-0) pitched the final three innings and struck out three with two walks. Jack Maynard took the loss. Maynard (4-2) went two-thirds of an inning in relief and allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits with one strikeout and one walk. Both pitching staffs struck out 14 batters. Billings' starter Ricky Salinas matched a season-high with nine strikeouts. Great Falls reliever Davis Martin fanned a season-high six in his three innings.
Great Falls closes out the regular-season schedule with a three-game road series at Billings. Game one is scheduled for 7:05 Tuesday night at Dehler Park. For 2018 playoff tickets and promotional information, call 406-452-5311 or visit www.gfvoyagers.com.
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Pioneer League Stories from September 4, 2018
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- JC Cloney Named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year - Idaho Falls Chukars
- Hulsizer Homer Not Enough as Raptors Fall - Ogden Raptors
- Billings Avoids Sweep, Earns Playoff Spot - Great Falls Voyagers
- Mustangs Clinch Playoff Spot with 7-3 Win - Billings Mustangs
- Record Tied in GJ Victory over Orem - Grand Junction Rockies
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