Missoula, MT.- The Billings Mustangs had the lead in the early going in game 2 of a 3-game set opposite the Missoula PaddleHeads in the Garden City. The Mustangs were in a must-win situation needing 2 wins in their final two games opposite the PaddleHeads to clinch a playoff berth.
Missoula, MT.- The Billings Mustangs had the lead in the early going in game 2 of a 3-game set opposite the Missoula PaddleHeads in the Garden City. The Mustangs were in a must-win situation needing 2 wins in their final two games opposite the PaddleHeads to clinch a playoff berth. Missoula made sure that their bitter rival would not have an opportunity to do that on their home field.
After falling into an early 2-0 hole, Missoula’s offense would come to life scoring 7 unanswered runs on their way to an 11-4 victory. The win for Missoula clinched the second half pennant in the Northern Division dashing the playoff hopes of the Mustangs. The matchup in the Northern Division playoff is now set as the Idaho Falls Chukars will be Missoula’s opponent Saturday night.
McClain O’Conner would bring the first run of the game home for Missoula in the third and would later score the tying run on wild pitch. Missoula would jump on the board as well in the next two frames to take the lead.
Back-to-back home runs from Jayson Newman, and A.J. Wright would put the PaddleHeads out in front in the fourth making the score 4-2. Both home runs were towering blasts to left field that traveled 887 feet off the bat combined. Newman finished the game 1-for-3 and Wright was 2-for-4.
The surge of offense in middle innings for Missoula would prove to be plenty for starter Domingo Pena who would turn in a dominant performance on the mound. The native of the Dominican Republic would allow only 2 hits over 7 innings of work striking out a season high 11 batters. The 11 punch-outs were the most recorded by a PaddleHeads starter this season. Pena now leads the league in wins (10), and strikeouts (121).
After the Mustangs would trim the PaddleHeads lead to 3 in the top of the eighth, Missoula would score 4 in the bottom of the inning to end any chance of a Billings comeback bid. Dean Nevarez provided the knockout blow in the frame hitting a 3-run blast down the left field line to give the PaddleHeads a 7-run advantage. Nevarez has now homered in 4 consecutive games. Nevarez is 6-for-12 combined in those games with 10 RBIs.
Friday will mark the final day of the regular season in the Pioneer League as Missoula (64-31) (29-18) will square off with Billings (44-51) (26-21) to wrap up the 2021 regular season campaign. The PaddleHeads will have other things on their mind however as they now know it will be the Idaho Falls Chukars (57-38) (23-24) that will be making the trip to Missoula for the one game playoff Saturday. Catch the season finale from the Garden City Friday on ESPN Missoula 102.9 F.M. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
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