Editors Note: This is a release from the Billings Mustangs.
BILLINGS, Mont. — The Billings Mustangs (1-1) kept their playoff hopes alive on Monday with a 4-3 win over the Idaho Falls Chukars (1-1) in front of 1,773 at Melaleuca Field in game two of the Pioneer League North Divisional Series.
Bullpen work was again the key to the Mustangs’ defensive success as four relief pitchers combined to allow just one run on two hits in seven combined innings. In two playoff games, the Mustangs’ relief staff has given up just one run on two hits in 12 innings.
Idaho Falls held an early lead at 2-0 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Isaiah Henry doubled in Juan Carlos Negret before a wild pitch allowed Jimmy Govern in from third.
The Mustangs evened it up immediately in the top of the third with two runs on three hits, all coming consecutively to start the inning. Jonathan Willems led things off with a triple to right field. Reniel Ozuna and Quincy McAfee each followed him up with singles. Ozuna led the Billings offense with a 3-for-4 night with one run and two RBI. The runs ended an 18-inning playoff scoreless streak for the Mustangs, extending back in to 2018.
The Chukars tallied their final run in the third when an RBI single from Clay Dungan brought in Tyler Tolbert from second on a contested play at the plate. Tolbert managed a slide around the tag of catcher Eric Yang to put Idaho Falls back in the lead at 3-2.
Following the third, the Chukars did not find another hit or run in the game, as Ian Koch, Alec Byrd (1-0), Ryan Dunne and Jose Adames combined for six shutout, no-hit innings to close. In Sunday’s game one, the Chukars did not have a hit or run after the fourth.
Billings fought out of their one-run deficit in the sixth with three hits off Nathan Webb (0-1). Leonardo Seminati doubled to center to tie the game, scoring Victor Ruiz all the way from first. Seminati then scored on Ozuna’s RBI single down the first base line.
With the win, the Mustangs have evened the divisional series at one game apiece. Tuesday’s game three winner will advance to the Pioneer League Championship Series to take on the Ogden Raptors. First pitch on Sept. 10 in game three is set for 7:15 p.m. MDT at Melaleuca Field.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.