MEDICINE HAT, Alberta - Early and often.
Such was the case for the Missoula Osprey's offense as it knocked around four different Medicine Hat pitchers for a season-high 17 hits in a 10-7 Pioneer League victory Sunday night at Athletic Field.
All but one of the Osprey's runs came in the first five innings, and six came during the first inning of work by a Blue Jays pitching staff that rotated every two innings until Christopher Mowday entered in the seventh and quelled Missoula's bats.
Every Osprey player but Lyle Overbay had at least one hit in the game, led by a 4-for-5 outing by left fielder Darryl Conyer. Conyer scored four times and capped the evening with a solo shot to right field for the game's final run.
The Osprey (3-2) ended a two-game skid and avenged Saturday night's 9-6 loss to the Blue Jays (2-3). The teams play the final game of the series Monday at 7 p.m. before the Osprey come home for the first time this season. They host Helena on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Lindborg-Cregg Field.
Missoula blew two early leads before settling in front for good in the fifth inning.
Trailing 7-5, Justin Graham sent the first pitch thrown by the Blue Jays' Reuben St. Amand over the fence. Jose Lopez followed with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Hector Cruz. He then tied the game on a wild pitch that went to the backstop.
Conyer and Corey Myers hit back-to-back singles. Conyer scored and Myers moved to third on Missoula's third straight hit, a single to left field by J.D. Closser. The Osprey scored their fourth run of the inning when Luis Terrero hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Myers for a 9-7 lead.
From there, relief pitcher Brandon Wood took control.
After giving up one run in the fourth when he came in for starter Todd Myers, Wood struck out four and gave up one hit in the next three innings. He got into trouble in the eighth, giving up back-to-back singles to open the inning, but Tim Stanton and Brian Matzenbacher got the Osprey out of the jam.
Stanton struck out Christopher Weekly for the first out, and Matzenbacher got pinch hitter Roberto Gutierrez to ground into a double play to end the rally. Matzenbacher then gunned down the side in the ninth for the save.
It could have been much more lopsided for Missoula, but it was a woeful night on the base paths. The Osprey tied a season high when it stranded 12 runners, leaving at least one in every inning except the ninth. They left the bases jammed in the fourth and had two people on in both the first and eighth.
The teams were tied 2-2 after the first as Missoula jumped back into the lead when it scored once in the second. But the Blue Jays took advantage of erratic pitching and poor fielding in the third and piled on four runs to take a 6-3 edge. In that inning, Wood hit two batters, walked two others and watched as his defense tallied two of its three errors.
The Osprey got within one, 6-5, in the fourth, gave up another run in the bottom of the inning and finally took the lead back for good in the fifth.
Tuesday - 6/22/99