GREAT FALLS, MONT. - In the opening game of the Pioneer League Divisional Series, the Missoula Osprey (0-1) surged for an early lead, but eventually fell to the Great Falls Voyagers (1-0) by a final score of 7-4 on Sunday night at Centene Stadium.
A Gabriel Maciel single to open the ballgame was immediately followed by a double from Eduardo Diaz that put runners on second and third with none out. The next batter, Keshawn Lynch, lined a single into center field to score Maciel and offer the Osprey the first run of the night. A double play one sequence later scored Diaz to lift Missoula to a 2-0 lead after just half an inning.
In the bottom half of the first, however, the Voyagers responded with a two-run home run from Pioneer League MVP Anthony Villa off Cole Stapler. The home run was the first of two surrendered by Stapler, as Great Falls added a second two-run homer during the next inning when Nolan Brown drove an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall.
Trailing 4-2, the Osprey struggled to find a response at the plate for the bulk of the middle innings, as they watched Great Falls steadily build a 6-2 lead on individual runs in the fourth and fifth frames. Stapler, who eventually was saddled with the loss, exited after 4.1 innings of work in which he surrendered six runs (all earned) on eight hits. The six runs scored against Stapler marked a season-high.
Finally in the sixth, Missoula pushed back against Great Falls starter Chris Comito thanks to a two-run homer by Andy Yerzy. A rally immediately following Yerzy's home run was undercut when reliever Fernando Gallegos induced an inning-ending double play. In a quiet evening at the plate for the Osprey collectively, Yerzy stood out with a 2-for-4 game in which he hit the previously mentioned homer and doubled.
After Great Falls added a security run in the bottom of the sixth to push the score to its final margin of 7-4, the Osprey did not muster further resistance. The loss pushes Missoula to the brink of elimination, forcing a must-win game on Monday night at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field.
The Osprey return to action on Monday night for Game 2 of the Pioneer League North Division Playoffs against the Great Falls Voyagers at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with coverage beginning with the Mission Paint Pregame Show on 102.9 ESPN Missoula at 6:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.