BILLINGS, Montana - The Billings Mustangs (3-3, 21-22-1) lost their series opener 6-2 to the Idaho Falls Chukars (3-4, 20-25) in front of 2,439 on Monday at Dehler Park. It was the first meeting of the season between the two teams.
Billings would not record a hit in their first six innings at the plate as Robert Garcia (1-2) threw shutout baseball for the first time this season. Garcia struck out six in five innings while walking two.
Idaho Falls took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Christhian Vasquez scurried home during a rundown between first and second of Julio Gonzalez. Gonzalez would eventually be tagged out in the play to end the inning.
The Chukars then extended that lead on Travis Jones' first homerun of the season, a solo homer in the fifth. Jones finished 2-for-3 with three RBI to pace the Chukars' offense.
The Mustangs' first hit came when Leandro Santana singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to right field off Garrett Harris. Santana would have the only multi-hit game Monday for the Mustangs, going 2-for-4 with a run. Mark Kolozsvary doubled later in the inning to score Santana and get the Mustangs on the board.
Billings would have the tying run on base in both the seventh and the eighth innings, but would leave the bases loaded in both of those frames. They would strand 11 on in the game to tie a season-high.
The Chukars extended their lead late by scoring three runs over the eighth and ninth innings. Stuart Fairchild's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth kept a brief ninth-inning rally alive before the Chukars closed the door for good.
Billings and Idaho Falls will now play in game two of their three-game series Tuesday at Dehler Park. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.