IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — It's game on in the Pioneer League's Northern Division.
The Missoula Osprey crept within 1.5 games of first-place Billings with a 7-1 win over Idaho Falls on Monday afternoon. Billings, which dropped a 4-1 decision at Great Falls, is 21-13 with just a four-game series against Missoula (19-14) remaining. That begins Wednesday in Billings. The Osprey face Idaho Falls again on Tuesday before traveling to the Magic City.
Five Missoula pitchers combined to hold the Chukars to just two hits, both singles. The Chukars' only run came in the fifth and was aided by an error.
Austin Pope (2-2), the second Missoula pitcher, got the win after tossing four innings. He allowed one hit while striking out six. Osprey pitchers fanned 14 batters in all.
Francis Martinez belted his team-leading 12th homer of the season in Missoula's three-run second inning. Winderd Patino drove in a run with one of his two triples and Luvin Valbuena had an RBI single.
Neyfy Castillo also homered for the Osprey in the sixth.
Patino, a recent addition to the team after finishing his Arizona League season, had three hits, scored two runs and drove in a pair. Valbuena, Axel Andueza and Jose Curpa added two hits apiece to Missoula's 12-hit attack.