BILLINGS — A change of scenery has given the Missoula Osprey a change of fortune.
Patrick McGuff turned in his best start of the season and Missoula pitching retired the final 13 Billings batters, helping the Osprey to their second consecutive win over the Mustangs Friday night in front of 3,496 fans at Dehler Park.
In the 5-2 victory, McGuff threw seven solid innings, his longest outing in three appearances, and Pedro Zorrilla and Mailon Arroyo provided perfect relief in a game that was completed in a crisp two hours and 16 minutes thanks to the good pitching on both sides.
McGuff (1-1) made just one mistake. Mustangs’ newcomer Matt Lloyd, who made his debut the night before, hammered a McGuff pitch over the right-field wall to account for Billings’ two runs and get the Mustangs within 4-2 in the fifth.
Lloyd was the last batter to reach base for the Mustangs, however. McGuff got the next seven hitters out, Zorrilla went 1-2-3 in the eighth and Arroyo struck out the side in the ninth for his second save. The trio combined for six strikeouts and didn’t issue a walk in handing the Mustangs their seventh loss in eight games at Dehler Park.
Osprey pitching, which was ranked third in the league with a 4.43 ERA going into the game, has been in fine form since the teams traveled to Billings following their series that ended Wednesday in Missoula. Billings won two of three in the Garden City — the Mustangs’ first series win of the season — and scored 23 runs in the three games.
There’s been no such production in the Magic City. Missoula (7-7) held Billings (3-11) to six hits on Thursday, which tied a season-low, and the Mustangs finished with four hits on Friday, a new season-low.
Mustangs pitching wasn’t bad, either, save for one bad inning. With the help of two nicely turned double plays in each of the first two innings, starter Justin McGregor (0-2) faced the minimum through three innings. But when Cam Coursey led off the fourth with a single, it started a parade of five Osprey base runners, four of whom scored.
Tristen Carranza and Dominic Canzone had RBIs in the inning, with the two other runs scoring on a wild pitch and McGregor’s own error. McGregor rebounded for a scoreless fifth and Francis Peguero retired all six batters he faced before Jerry D’Andrea finished up with two innings, allowing Missoula’s final run on doubles by Liover Peguero and Cesar Garcia.
NOTES: Lloyd had two of the Mustangs' four hits ... Axel Andueza went 3 for 4 for Missoula ... The Mustangs turned three double plays in all … After combining for five errors in Thursday’s game, there were three on Friday … The teams wrap up their three-game series at Dehler Park Saturday at 6:35 p.m.