MISSOULA, MONT. - Starting pitcher Cole Stapler matched his career-high with five strikeouts, Juan Araujo hit his eighth home run of the season, and the Missoula Osprey (23-27 | 4-8) rode their pitching staff to a 4-3 win over the Grand Junction Rockies (25-26 | 7-6) on Monday night at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field.
Missoula jumped ahead for an early lead in the second inning when Juan Araujo pulled a 3-1 pitch from Lucas Gilbreath over the left field fence for his eighth homer of the year. The Osprey then doubled their advantage to 2-0 in the third when Gabriel Maciel crossed home on a wild pitch.
In his first professional start, right-hander Cole Stapler dominated for three innings before handing the ball to the bullpen, holding Grand Junction scoreless, while allowing just one hit and striking out five batters. His three innings and five strikeouts each matched career highs.
With right-hander Jimmy Johnson into the game, Grand Junction used a run-scoring double play to cut the Osprey lead to 2-1 in the top of the fifth. In the home half of the inning, however, Missoula responded to stretch its lead to 4-1 with a pair of runs, the first scoring on a balk and the second on an RBI-double from Ernie De La Trinidad.
Over the final four innings, the Rockies scored a pair of runs against the Osprey bullpen, but failed to tie the game. After surrendering a run in the eighth, closer Abraham Almonte stranded the bases loaded. The left-hander then completed his league-high eighth save of the year with a scoreless ninth.
In the victory, the Osprey received two hits from Gabriel Maciel, Brandon Leyton, and Juan Araujo. Johnson and Almonte combined to limit Grand Junction to three runs in six innings of relief.
The Osprey return to action on Tuesday night for the second installment of their four-game series against the Grand Junction Rockies at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with gates opening at 6:30 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.