The crowd at Melaleuca Field has seen plenty of offense from the Idaho Falls Chukars in 2016. But they haven’t seen anything more impressive than the offensive showing the Billings Mustangs displayed Monday night.
Billings pounded out 21 hits and held off two Idaho Falls rallies to beat the Chukars 12-5 in front of 3,290 fans in a game that lasted 3 hours, 22 minutes.
It was the sixth loss in seven games for Idaho Falls, which remained three games behind Grand Junction in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings.
Whatever you can do
Billings grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a leadoff triple by TJ Friedl and an RBI single from Taylor Trammell. The score remained stuck at 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when Idaho Falls bats — held to one hit up to that point — finally came to life.
Nick Heath got things started with a leadoff single and then stole second. He moved to third on a single from Luke Willis. With Ricky Aracena batting, Heath came home on a passed ball. Manny Olloque gave Idaho Falls the lead with a swinging bunt to third.
Billings didn’t take long to answer, scoring four runs on five hits against reliever Drew Milligan. The momentum from a solid start by Andres Machado (five innings, six hits, one earned run, five strikeouts) and the mini rally in the fifth was gone.
The Mustangs tacked on three runs in the seventh in what looked like insurance runs at the time. But Idaho Falls scored three runs on four hits to make it a game.
It wasn’t a game for long. Billings put the game out of reach after the first two hitters struck out, scoring four runs on five hits.
Idaho Falls went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.
It was a tough night for the Idaho Falls bullpen. Milligan picked up a blown save and the loss after the rough sixth inning, while Jason Freeman allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 2.2 innings. Cole Way walked one and struck out one in 0.1 innings.
Player of the game
The entire Billings lineup
There’s no way to pick one player for the Mustangs, who got a hit from every player in the lineup. Cassidy Brown led the way with four hits, while Jose Siri, Taylor Trammell, Hector Vargas and John Sansone each had three. Trammell, Montrell Marshall, Sansone and Morgan Lofstrom each had two RBIs.
The Mustangs (33-19, 10-4 second half) and Chukars (27-26, 5-10) play the second game of their four-game series tonight at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
CHUKARS 7, VOYAGERS 3: Idaho Falls snapped a unsightly five-game losing streak, thanks to a strong start from Igol Feliz and a five-run second inning.
Feliz pitched in and out of trouble during his seven innings, allowing nine hits but not allowing a walk and limiting Great Falls to two earned runs.
And the offense, which had averaged just 2.8 runs during the five-game skid, belted five doubles and 11 hits total. Designated hitter Joe Dudek led the way, going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs. Luke Willis, Angelo Castellano and Ryan Dale also had two-baggers.
And the defense, which leads the league in errors, didn’t have a miscue and turned one double play.