Missoula, MT-Looking to keep their Pioneer League playoff hopes alive, the Voyagers built a big lead before hanging on late in a 10-8 victory over the Missoula Osprey Thursday night at Ogren Park-Allegiance Field.
With the win, Great Falls (33-41, 18-18) has moved back into a first-place tie with Missoula with two games remaining. The Voyagers are 5-9 in the season series with the Osprey. Great Falls closed out its road record this season at 14-24. Missoula (37-37, 18-18) finished its 2017 home schedule with a 22-16 mark.
The Voyagers opened the scoring with a four-run 3rd. Nate Nolan fueled the inning with a leadoff double. David Cronin drove in Nolan with a base hit to center. Following a sacrifice bunt by Nolan Brown, Craig Dedelow was hit by a pitch. Logan Taylor brought home the second run with a single to right. Anthony Villa made it 4-0 with a two-run double deep to the gap in right-center.
Great Falls added to the lead with two in the 4th. Nate Nolan sparked a two-out rally with a solo home run high and deep to left-center for his seventh of the season. David Cronin then singled to right and stole second. Nolan Brown made it 6-0 with an RBI single lined into center.
Missoula scored its first run of the night in the 5th before both sides put up crooked numbers in the 6th. The Voyagers used another two-out rally for a three-run frame. Nate Nolan was in the middle of it once again with a single on the ground into right. David Cronin reached with an infield single knocked off the pitcher’s glove. Nolan Brown drove in Nolan with an RBI single. After a walk of Craig Dedelow, Logan Taylor plated two with a single to left and it was 9-1.
The Osprey scored twice in the home half of the 6th. Andy Yerzy led off with a solo home run deep to center. Terence Connelly coaxed a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Jose Caballero singled to left for a 9-3 game.
After Missoula scored a single run in the 7th, a four-run 8th for the Osprey trimmed the Great Falls lead to one. Jose Caballero led off with a single to right. Brandon Leyton reached on a fielder’s choice. Gabriel Maciel then doubled. With two outs, Eduardo Diaz grounded a ball to short that resulted in a throwing error and allowed two runs to score. Andy Yerzy closed the gap to 9-8 with a two-run home run high and deep to right-center for his second of the night and 13th of the season. An unearned Voyagers run in the 9th provided the game’s final margin.
On the mound, Brandon Agar picked up the win for Great Falls. Agar (7-2) worked five innings and gave up one earned run on three hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Kai-Wei Lin took the loss for Missoula. Lin (0-6) lasted four innings and allowed six earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout. Jhoan Quijada went one-and-a-third for his third save of the season. Quijada gave up one hit but induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
At the plate for the Voyagers, Nate Nolan finished a triple shy of the cycle with three hits, one RBI, and three runs scored. David Cronin went 3-for-4 with one RBI and three runs. Logan Taylor collected two hits with three RBIs. Jose Caballero went 4-for-5 for the Osprey. Andy Yerzy had the two homers with three RBIs. Eduardo Diaz posted three hits with two RBIs.
Great Falls plays its final two regular-season games at home against Missoula Friday and Saturday nights. The Voyagers need one more win to earn a playoff berth. First pitch at Centene Stadium is set for 7 o’clock both nights.