Billings, MT-After losing their fair share of one-run games during the regular season, the Voyagers received solid pitching and turned four double plays to fuel a 3-2 playoff-opening victory over the Mustangs Friday night at Dehler Park.
Great Falls (1-0) had lost six straight road games to close out the regular-season, but a division-series game one road win gives them a chance to close out Billings (0-1) at home Saturday night.
The Voyagers plated two unearned runs in the second to start the scoring. Bryce Bush led off the frame with a double to the alley in right-center. With one out, Bryan Connell was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up a station with a wild pitch. With two outs, Gunnar Troutwine grounded a ball to the shortstop that resulted in a throwing error to first. Both runners scored for a 2-0 lead.
The Mustangs did not score their first run of the game until the sixth. Juan Martinez led off the inning with a single to left-center. Miguel Hernandez reached on a fielder's choice. A two-out RBI double to right by Reniel Ozuna trimmed the lead to 2-1.
Billings leveled the game with another single tally in the bottom of the seventh. Mariel Bautista singled to center to start it. Bautista moved to second on a ground out. An infield single from Drew Mount also led to a throwing error on the play and allowed Bautista to race home from second with the tying run.
Great Falls promptly answered with a run in the eighth to reclaim the lead. Pinch hitting, Travis Moniot singled to right to lead off the frame. Bryan Connell reached on a bunt fielder's choice back to the pitcher. Connell then advanced to third on a two-base catcher's throwing error attempting a pickoff at first. A two-out infield single to third for Gunnar Troutwine scored Connell with the go-ahead run. Billings stranded the tying run at third in the bottom of the eighth and went 1-2-3 in the ninth. The final batter of the game lined a drive deep to center that was grabbed by Romy Gonzalez with a leaping catch in front of the wall.
Lane Ramsey earned the win in relief. Ramsey (1-0) went one-and-two-thirds scoreless and hitless. Ryan Dunne took the loss. Dunne (0-1) pitched two relief innings and gave up one unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts. Nick Johnson picked up the save with one strikeout in the ninth.
Great Falls outhit Billings 9-to-7. Bryce Bush collected two doubles. Lenyn Sosa added two hits. Reniel Ozuna and Juan Martinez each bagged two hits for the Mustangs. The Voyagers committed three errors. The Mustangs made two.
Great Falls plays game two of its Pioneer League divisional round playoff series against Billings Saturday night at Centene Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7 o'clock. Gates open at 6. For 2018 playoff tickets and promotional information, call 406-452-5311 or visit www.gfvoyagers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.