The steady defense the Missoula Osprey were playing of late crumbled on Tuesday as the Billings Mustangs won 8-6 before 2,583 Pioneer League baseball fans, who were on hand for the middle game of a three-game series.
The Mustangs (5-3) have won four of their games this summer at Ogren-Allegiance Park. The Osprey committed a season-high four errors to aid Billings' come-from-behind win.
One of Missoula's errors came in the seventh inning, when the Mustangs tallied four runs to take control for good. Jordan Wideman slapped a bases-clearing double off the wall in right field, and then scored the game's final run on a throwing error by Osprey shortstop Reynaldo Navarro.
Missoula (2-6) made two more miscues in the next inning, which didn't result in any runs being scored, but still damaged the hopes of a team trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
"We just had some key errors in some key situations," said O's first baseman Ryne White, who made one of the errors. "The fight was still there. We had 12 hits and scored six runs. When you get that you should win a game. But we kept fighting. The best thing about baseball is you get to play again tomorrow."
Billings and Missoula finish their series Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., before the Birds welcome league-leader Great Falls to town for a pair starting Thursday.
Even though its defense kind of floundered, Missoula still made some key plays to keep things close, including two more outfield assists. One of those came in the eighth inning after the two errors. Right fielder Isaias Ascencio threw a runner out at home on a single that dropped in just in front of the 20-year-old outfielder. It was the Osprey's eighth outfield assist of the year.
"We pick the ball up well," White said. "We have some of the best-throwing outfielders in the league. They have cannons for arms. That's just a ton of assists. You gotta pick up the ball to win this game. It just didn't work out today."
White went 2-for-5 on Tuesday to raise his average to .343. He's gone 11-for-23 in his last five games. White tied the game at 4-4 with an RBI single in the fifth. He plated a run to tie the score at 4-4 in Monday's 6-5 win, too.
Wideman went 2-for-5 with two doubles and Carlos Mendez was 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs batted in for Billings. Will Hudgens won his second game of the season after pitching two innings of relief. He wasn't unscathed, however. Relievers Junior Martinez and Aguido Gonzalez blanked Missoula the final three frames, and Gonzalez got the save.
Jacob Elmore gave the hometown fans their first successful peanut inning of the season with his two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Osprey a 6-4 lead. Fans are tossed free peanuts if the O's score in their half of that inning.
Missoula starter Santo Baez lasted just three innings after going five innings in his previous start against Billings. The quick exit by Baez broke a three-game streak of Osprey starters going at least five innings. Clayton Suss pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Bryan Shaw was the hard-luck loser. He hit two batters in the seventh.
Missoula got back into the game with a two-out, two-run fourth inning. Kyle Greene had an RBI double and Nelson Gomez hit a run-scoring single. The inning featured a weird pickoff attempt at first base when Billings starter Lance Janke accidentally threw the ball down into the ground toward second, but wasn't called for a balk. Janke was lifted one pitch later after a walk. Back-to-back doubles by Tony Brown and Carlos Mendez sprung Billings to a 3-0 lead in the first.
NOTES: Ollie Linton singled, stole a base and scored on an RBI double in his first professional at-bat. Š LF Bobby Stone recorded his fourth outfield assist of the season when he misplayed a low liner by Brett Bartles in the fourth inning, but threw Bartles out at second base. … Osprey C Rossmel Perez was injured in the ninth inning on a foul-tipped strikeout by Wideman. Perez left holding his right (throwing) arm and was replaced by Bill Musselman.
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Means cf 6 1 2 0 Linton cf 4 2 2 0
Bartles 1b 4 1 2 0 Navarro ss 5 0 2 1
Buccholz 2b 5 1 1 0 White 1b 5 0 2 1
Sappelt lf 3 1 0 0 Stone lf 3 1 0 0
Brown dh 5 1 1 2 Diaz rf 4 0 0 0
Mendez 3b 5 1 2 2 Greene dh 4 1 1 1
Day rf 3 1 0 0 N. Gomez 3b 4 1 2 1
Wideman c 5 1 2 3 R. Perez c 3 0 2 0
Rojas ss 5 0 1 0 Musselman c 0 0 0 0
Elmore 2b 4 1 1 2
Totals 41 8 11 7 Totals 36 6 12 6
Billings 301 000 400 - 8
Missoula 100 212 000 - 6
E-Wideman; Gomez, Navarro, White. DP- Billings 2, Missoula 0. LOB-Billings 13, Missoula 6. 2B-Brown, Mendez 2, Wideman 2, Rojas; Navarro, Greene, N. Gomez, R. Perez. HR-Elmore. SB-Means, Sappelt, Rojas; Linton.
IP H R ER BB SO
Janke 3.2 6 3 3 2 0
Beal 0.1 0 0 0 0 0
Hudgens (W, 2-0) 2.0 5 3 3 0 1
Martinez 2.0 1 0 0 0 1
Gonzalez (S, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
Baez 3.0 5 4 4 1 0
Suss (L, 0-1) 4.0 4 4 3 1 3
Zepeda 2.0 2 0 0 1 3
Umpires- Home, Rick Wilson; First, Yute Niide. T-2:55. A-2,583