MISSOULA, MONT. - The Missoula Osprey (21-26 | 2-7) rallied in the ninth to put the potential tying runs on base, but fell to the Orem Owlz (34-12-1 | 8-1) by a final score of 5-3 on Friday night at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field.
Missoula opened an early lead in the home half of the second inning, as designated hitter Gavin Stupienski torched a solo home run to right-center field on a 1-2 pitch from Orem Starter Elvin Rodriguez. Rodriguez, the Pioneer League leader in ERA and strikeouts, had not surrendered a home run on the road until Stupienski's blast gave the Osprey a 1-0 edge.
In the subsequent half inning, Orem seized the lead with a two-run homer from second baseman Steven Kerr. The Owlz then added a third run in the top of the fifth when Franklin Torres poked a looping fly ball over the right side of Missoula's pinched infield to score Manuel Guzman from third.
Osprey starter Kai-Wei Lin turned in his second consecutive strong outing against Orem, lasting five full innings and surrendering three runs (all earned) on four hits and a walk, while striking out a season-high seven. Following Lin's exit, reliever Casey Kulina fired two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts bridging the game into the seventh.
With two men out in the bottom of the seventh, Missoula mounted a rally against reliever Denny Brady by stringing together consecutive singles from Gabriel Maciel and Eduardo Diaz. Joey Rose followed by ripping a single past third baseman Franklin Torres to score Maciel from second. Attempting to catch Rose sneaking into second behind the play, Torres threw the ball past Kerr and allowed Diaz to come home and score the tying run.
With the base hit, Rose extended his league-best hitting streak to 20 games, while Andy Yerzy and Francis Martinez each extended their respective streaks to 13 games. Following a scoreless eighth from both clubs, Jeff Bain was tagged for a pair of runs in the top of the ninth on a two-run single, dropping the Osprey to a 5-3 deficit. Down to their final out, Missoula rallied to put runners on first and third, but failed to tie the ballgame, falling by the same score.
The Osprey return to action on Saturday night for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field for the second installment of their three-game series with the Orem Owlz. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.