Missoula takes home first-half title

Osprey rally in ninth inning to seize Pioneer North crown

Eric Groff ranks fourth in the Pioneer League with a .369 batting average. (Missoula Osprey)

By David Heck / Special to MLB.com | July 26, 2011 7:45 PM

It appeared as though the Missoula Osprey would have to wait at least one more day before clinching the Pioneer League North's first-half championship. A ninth-inning rally made sure they didn't have to.

The Rookie-level Osprey scored three runs on four hits in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday, walking off on Roidany Aguila's RBI single to beat Idaho Falls, 4-3, to take home the title.

Josh Parr led off the ninth with a single up the middle, then advanced to second on a passed ball. Ryan Court reached on an error by shortstop Michael Liberto, putting runners on the corners for Jonathan Griffin.

Griffin grounded out to third, scoring Parr and advancing Court to second. Eric Groff and Fidel Pena singled to tie the game, and two batters later, Aguila sent a ground ball through the left side to plate Groff and win the game.

Groff finished 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. The 23-year-old third baseman ranks fourth in the Pioneer League with a .369 batting average.

Osprey starter Dexter Price yielded three runs on five hits over five innings, but the Missoula bullpen combined to allow two baserunners across the final four innings. Seth Simmons (1-0) earned the victory after tossing a scoreless ninth.

For the year, the Missoula pitching staff has been led by Taylor Siemens, who ranks first in the league among qualified pitchers with a 1.95 ERA.

Overall, the Osprey are third in the Pioneer League with a 4.54 team ERA, just a tenth of a run behind first-place Ogden. The team also ranks second offensively, with 227 runs scored in 34 games.

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More