Playoff Preview: Game #2
Who: Great Falls Voyagers (34–42, 19–19) @ Missoula Osprey (38–38, 19–19)
Where: Ogren Park at Allegiance Field — Missoula, MT
When: 7:05 P.M. (MT) first pitch
NORTH DIVISION SERIES
Game 1: Missoula 4 — Great Falls 7
SERIES: Great Falls 1 — Missoula
The Osprey and Voyagers continue their fourth all-time postseason series and first since 2012 when the Osprey took 2 of 3 to advance to the Pioneer League Championship Series. All-time, the Osprey own a 2–1 advantage in playoff series against Great Falls. After Sunday night’s Game 1 loss, the series of individual playoff games is now tied 5–5. During the 2017 season, the Osprey enjoyed more success against the Voyagers than any other team in the league, posting a 10–6 head-to-head record. Missoula won 6 of the 8 games played between the two clubs at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field.
A Gabriel Maciel single to open the ballgame was immediately followed by a double from Eduardo Diaz that put runners on second and third with none out. The next batter, Keshawn Lynch, lined a single into center field to score Maciel and offer the Osprey the first run of the night. A double play one sequence later scored Diaz to lift Missoula to a 2–0 lead after just half an inning.
In the bottom half of the first, however, the Voyagers responded with a two-run home run from Pioneer League MVP Anthony Villa off Cole Stapler. The home run was the first of two surrendered by Stapler, as Great Falls added a second two-run homer during the next inning when Nolan Brown drove an 0–2 pitch over the left field wall.
Trailing 4–2, the Osprey struggled to find a response at the plate for the bulk of the middle innings, as they watched Great Falls steadily build a 6–2 lead on individual runs in the fourth and fifth frames. Stapler, who eventually was saddled with the loss, exited after 4.1 innings of work in which he surrendered six runs (all earned) on eight hits. The six runs scored against Stapler marked a season-high.
Finally in the sixth, Missoula pushed back against Great Falls starter Chris Comito thanks to a two-run homer by Andy Yerzy. A rally immediately following Yerzy’s home run was undercut when reliever Fernando Gallegos induced an inning-ending double play. In a quiet evening at the plate for the Osprey collectively, Yerzy stood out with a 2-for-4 game in which he hit the previously mentioned homer and doubled.
After Great Falls added a security run in the bottom of the sixth to push the score to its final margin of 7–4, the Osprey did not muster further resistance. The loss pushes Missoula to the brink of elimination, forcing a must-win game on Monday night at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field.
The Osprey return home to Ogren Park at Allegiance Field facing elimination from the Pioneer League playoffs. Having won four consecutive elimination games dating back to 2011, the Opsrey hope to return to form in the comfortable setting of their own ballpark. Having never been swept in a postseason series, the Opsrey send 17-year-old right-hander Elvis Luciano to the mound for his first Pioneer League start and only his second appearance with the Osprey overall. In his only previous outing, a relief appearance against Great Falls on September 7, Luciano retired all six batters that he faced, striking out two.
In his first professional season, Luciano becomes the youngest pitcher to appear in an Osprey playoff game since Scottie Allen pitched twice in the 2009 postseason as a 17-year-old. With previous stops this year in the Dominican Summer League and Arizona League, Luciano has posted a 4–1 record and a 2.84 ERA with 52 strikeouts compared to 18 walks in 66.2 innings of work.
Oppsing Luciano for the Voyagers will be left-hander Parker Rigler, who was routed by the osprey in his final outing of the regular season. A left-hander drafted from Kansas State, Rigler was tagged with a loss on September 6 after surrendering 6 runs (2 earned) on 1 hits and 2 walks in just 0.1 inning pitched. Overall on the season, Rigerl owns a 5–4 record and a 5.88 ERA in 16 appearances (10 starts). He’s appeared against the Osprey 4 times, twice as a starter and twice as a reliever. He’s posted a 1–2 record and an ERA of 6.75 in 9.1 innings of competition, with 12 strikeouts & 3 walks.
- Gabriel Maciel — LF
- Eduardo Diaz — CF
- Keshawn Lynch — SS
- Andy Yerzy — DH
- Juan Araujo — RF
- Dominic Miroglio — C
- Jose Caballero — 2B
- Terence Connelly — 1B
- Joel Novas — 3B
- P — Elvis Luciano (RHP)