GREAT FALLS, Montana - The Billings Mustangs (1-0) rode the impressive start of Ian Kahaloa to a 7-3 win over the Great Falls Voyagers (0-1) Friday night at Centene Stadium.
Aron McRee (5-1) struggled on the hill for Great Falls, going four innings in the start and giving up six runs. McRee, the league ERA champion in the regular season, wouldn't be able to get out of the first before giving up his first run.
T.J. Friedl led off the game with a single and scored in the next at-bat on the RBI base-hit of Jose Siri. The first three batters in the Mustangs' batting order combined for nine hits in the game.
The third is when the Mustangs truly pulled away, scoring four runs on four hits. Friedl and Taylor Trammell each had singles in the inning before Michael Beltre would triple and John Sansone followed with a two-run homerun. It was Sansone's sixth homer of the year.
Friedl added a solo homerun of his own in the fourth to make it a 6-0 Billings lead. He went 3-for-5 with three runs scored in the game.
Ian Kahaloa pitched a masterful seven
innings in the start, throwing shutout baseball and allowing just four hits. He would strike out a career-high 10 batters.
Corey Zangari made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth when he hit a three-run, pinch-hit homerun off Dauri Moreta, but that would prove to be the entirety of the Voyagers' scoring.
With the win, Billings is just one win away from a berth in the Pioneer League Championship series for the second time in three years. Game two of the Northern Divisional Series will be Saturday at Dehler Park in Billings. Tickets are still available at billingsmustangs.com, in person at the Dehler Park Box Office, or by calling 406-252-1241. 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.