MISSOULA — Strong pitching powered the Missoula Osprey to their biggest win of the young season Tuesday.
Starter Dustin Lacaze threw four scoreless innings to set the tone and relievers Nick Marchese and Mailon Arroyo were solid in the O's 2-1 win over Idaho Falls at chilly Ogren-Allegiance Park. It marked the just second loss in 15 games for the Chukars (13-2).
The Osprey drew first blood in the fourth inning. Liover Peguero lined a one-out single to right field and scored on a two-out, opposite-field double to right center by former Ohio State Buckeye Dominic Canzone.
Lacaze was replaced by Nick Marchese in the fifth and he got into trouble when the Chukars put runners on first and second with two outs. Marchese responded with a clutch strikeout — his third of the inning — over Clay Dungan.
Marchese was back in a jam in the sixth. Jose Marquez smacked a leadoff triple and scored on a Juan Carlos Negret sacrifice fly.
Missoula broke the tie in the seventh. Cesar Garcia drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position at second on a ground-out.
Garcia hustled around to score when Jose Reyes hit a blooper just on the grass beyond second base. Chukars second baseman Tyler James fielded the ball and tossed it home. But because Garcia never slowed up when he made the turn around third, he was able to narrowly beat the throw to the plate.
Arroyo, Missoula's closer, allowed a leadoff single by Rhett Aplin in the ninth. But he struck of the next hitter he faced and then got some help from catcher Axel Andueza, who gunned down Aplin trying to steal second.
Peguero and Garcia paced the O's at the plate with two hits apiece. Marchese (2-0) picked up the pitching win, allowing one run on three hits with four strikeouts in three innings.
Missoula (8-9) and Idaho Falls will battle in the rubber game of their best-of-3 series Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. A fireworks show will follow the game.