W: Cespedes (3-0)
L: Alecis (4-3)
S: Urena (4)
BILLINGS, Montana - The Billings Mustangs (1-1, 19-20-1) lost their series opener 4-3 to the Ogden Raptors (3-0, 26-15) in front of 3,007 at Dehler Park on Thursday as the team makes its return from the All-Star Break. The Mustangs would send three representatives to the third annual game which resulted in a 5-4 win for the Northwest League All-Stars.
Thursday's series opener started with early scoring and ended with a bullpen duel, as have many of the Mustangs' contest this season. Ogden did not need a hit to post a run in the top of the first. Brayan Morales led off the game with a walk and would score later in the inning on a wild pitch. He would be the only man aboard in the inning in a game that didn't see a hit until the third.
The Raptors extended their lead to 4-0 when three runs scored on just one hit in the third, aided by three walks and a hit batter. That is where the Ogden scoring would end as the Billings bullpen took over and shut down the Raptors' offense. Connor Bennett led the way with three perfect innings of relief which included four strikeouts. Cory Thompson added in two scoreless innings of his own along with four strikeouts.
The Mustangs scored the final three runs of the game, but would come up just short of a full recovery. Stuart Fairchild and Mark Kolozsvary added in doubles in the fourth and fifth, respectively, and would both score to cut the deficit to two. Leandro Santana's solo homerun in the bottom of the ninth got it to a 4-3 margin, but the Billings offense could not close the final gap. The homer was Santana's ninth of the season putting him one off the Pioneer League lead which is held by Ogden's Luis Paz. The Raptors are now on a league-high eight game winning streak.
The Mustangs and Raptors will play in the second game of their four-game series Friday 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.