Osprey Preview: Game #2
Who: Missoula Osprey (0–1) at Billings Mustangs (1–0)
Where: Dehler Park — Billings, MT
When: 7:05 P.M. (MT) first pitch
How To Listen: ESPN 102.9 FM | TuneIn Radio App | MiLB.com
Joel Novas tied the game at 4–4 with an RBI-single in the top of the seventh inning, but a game-ending balk in the ninth sank Missoula (0–1) to a 5–4 opening night loss at Billings (1–0) on Monday night.
Billings right fielder Andy Sugilio tied the game at 2–2 in the bottom of the first with a two-run homer of his own. The blast was one of three hits for Sugilio on the evening. The Mustangs added individual runs in the third and sixth on sacrifice flies by Montrell Marshall and Alejo Lopez.
Trailing 4–2 in the top of the seventh inning, Juan Araujo catalyzed a rally by reaching first on an infield single. The next batter, Luis Lara, worked a walk against reliever Alfredo Mena to put runners on first and second with no men out. Mena was then charged with a balk, moving the runners to second and third. A wild pitch from Mena then allowed Araujo to come home, cutting the deficit to 4–3. With Lara on third and one out, Novas grounded Mena’s 3–1 pitch into center field to score Lara and tie the game at 4–4.
Missoula subsequently pushed the possible go-ahead run to second base in the top of the eighth, but stranded Joey Rose at second after a pop-fly double-the last of 12 men left on base by the Osprey.
In the bottom of the ninth, Yeison Santana surrendered an infield single to Carlos Rivero on a bouncer to first base that could have easily been scored an error. Rivero promptly swiped second base, moved to third on a wild pitch by Santana, and came home to score the winning run when Santana was called for a balk.
Osprey starter Luis Madero did not factor into the decision after pitching five innings and allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits and one walk, while striking out five. Billings starting pitcher, Max Wotell, received a no-decision as well despite flummoxing Missoula’s lineup for six innings in which he allowed just two runs on two hits and three walks, striking out two.
One of the most contentious rivalries in all of Minor League Baseball, Billings and Missoula have gotten together 282 times since 1999. Of those contests, the Osprey have won 135 and the Mustangs have taken 147. Historically, the O’s have been more successful at home than in Billings, posting an all-time mark of 75–67 in Missoula and 60–50 in Billings. Last night’s 5–4 loss snapped the Osprey’s 5-game winning streak at Dehler Park.
Missoula — LHP Franklyn Soriano(0–0, 0.00 ERA)
A tall, thin southpaw, Soriano is expected to make his Osprey debut on Tuesday night. Now in his third-year as a professional, Soriano has spent the last two seasons pitching in the Dominican Summer League (2015) and the Arizona League (2016).
While the six-foot, six-inch left-hander pitched exceptionally well two years ago for the DSL D-backs, he endured a mild regression in his second year, struggling through the first half of the AZL season before rebounding on the back end of the year. Following a move to the middle of the bullpen, Soriano’s ERA improved from 6.27 in the first half to 3.42 in the second. Two seasons ago in the DSL, Soriano dominanted opposing hitters en route to a 3–2 record and a 2.02 ERA.
Billings —RHP Jhon DeJesus (0–0, 0.00 ERA)
Like Soriano, DeJesus is expected to make his Pioneer League debut after a couple of seasons dominating the Dominican Summer League. Combined between 2015 and 2015, DeJesus pitched in 26 games (24 starts), going 8–9 with a 3.06 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 123.1 innings of work.
Now 20-years-old, DeJesus will attempt to follow the act of left-hander Max Wottell, who turned in 6 excellent innings for Billings last night. Based on the look of Missoula’s lineup last night, there figures to be a decent amount of right-left balance in the starting lineup again on Tuesday.
NOTES: Andy Yerzy’s first-inning two-run home run on Monday night was his first Pioneer League homer and second overall as a professional… Luis Madero set a new personal-best with 5.0 innings pitched in a Pioneer League game. While his career-high is 6.0 innings, Madero had not made it beyond 4.1 innings in any of his previous 5 starts for the Osprey… Prior to Tuesday’s game, Missoula formally announced the addition of left-handed pitcher Brady Muller and the transfer of catcher Gavin Stupienski to Hillsboro.