BILLINGS, Montana - The Billings Mustangs (18-19, 36-38-1) matched their longest game of the season on Friday in a 5-4 win in 13 innings over the Helena Brewers (12-25, 27-47) in front of 2,913 at Dehler Park.
The Mustangs would lead twice in the game, their first lead coming in the second inning. Alejo Lopez provided an infield single with one out before the following two batters were hit by pitches. The Helena pitching staff would hit seven batters in the game. With the bases loaded, a fielder's choice from Jake Turnbull brought in Lopez to give the Mustangs an early 1-0 lead.
That lead would disappear immediately as Helena scored all four of their runs on four hits in the third. KJ Harrison cleared the bases with a three-RBI double and Gabriel Garcia would single him in in the next at-bat. That single from Garcia would be the last hit the Brewers had until the 13th inning.
The Mustangs' pitching staff then turned away the Brewers for the rest of the game. Helena would not get another hit for over nine innings while 33 batters came to the plate without a single hit. Five pitchers combined to throw shutout baseball over the final 10 innings for the Mustangs. Connor Bennett would matched a career-high with six strikeouts in his three innings on the hill while John Ghyzel, Tyler Buffett and Cory Thompson (3-1) would strike out six and allow just one hit combined to finish the game.
Trailing 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Pabel Manzanero reached to lead off on a throwing error from Chad McClanahan at third, one of five errors for Helena Friday. He would end up scoring, after a wild pitch got him to third, on the sacrifice fly of Jeter Downs.
The score would remain tied at 4-4 for the next three and one-half innings before Billings could break through for the win. With the bases loaded and one out in the 12th, Billings was turned away by consecutive grounders to force a 13th frame.
Andy Sugilio singled to right to lead off the 13th before a strikeout created the first out of the inning. Sugilio would steal second on the final strike of the strikeout and advance to third when the throw found its way into center field, the fourth error of the game for Helena. An intentional walk put Jake Turnbull at first and brought Nadir Ljatifi to the plate with men on the corners and just one out. Ljatifi would fly a two-strike pitch into shallow right field which was dropped by Nicolas Pierre for the final error of the game for the Brewers, one which allowed Sugilio in to score the winning run. It was the first win in extra innings at Dehler Park this season for the Mustangs and matched their longest game of the year at 13 innings, both of which have been against the Helena Brewers.
Despite the Mustangs' win they were eliminated from playoff contention on Friday when the Great Falls Voyagers beat the Missoula Osprey 10-8 at Centene Stadium. It was the first time the Mustangs have missed the playoffs since 2013.
The Mustangs will play their final game of the season Saturday at Dehler Park against the Helena Brewers as they seek the series sweep. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.