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Mustangs smash Raptors twice to earn series split

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Jun 16, 2024

Winners in 7 of their last 9, the Ogden Raptors had started to make headway in the Pioneer Baseball League standings. But after a weekend setback, the club is back to seven games behind playoff-qualifying second place.

The Billings Mustangs outscored the Raptors 30-6 over games Saturday and Sunday to finish the six-game set at Lindquist Field and earn Billings (13-11) a series split.

Once again, the Missoula Paddleheads (19-5) lead the league and the Boise Hawks (16-8) are in second place in the league's new no-division format.

Ogden (9-15) next plays at Grand Junction (8-16) for six games Tuesday, June 18, through Sunday, June 23.

MUSTANGS 10, RAPTORS 1

Four Billings pitchers combined to strike out 14 Raptors and walk just two in the series finale Sunday afternoon.

Ogden's lone run came in the fifth inning when shortstop Matthew Golda singled home Raymond Gil.

Of Ogden's nine hits, only Jack Cone's double was an extra-baser. Meanwhile, Evan Blum homered in the second and Patrick Mills doubled in the third to welcome new Raptors starter Nico Saltaformaggio into the league.

Saltaformaggio threw an OK five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, striking out six and walking one. But run support was scarce.

Mills later hit a two-run homer off Raptors reliever Christian Griffin in the seventh inning to build a 7-1 lead and Jacob Kline kept the scoring going in the eighth against Bruce Yamamoto, leading off with a triple and scoring on a sacrifice fly.

Luke Rettig got the win for Billings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out six and walking zero in five innings.

Cone and Nick Ultsch each tallied two hits for Ogden.

MUSTANGS 20, RAPTORS 5

A 1-1 ballgame turned into a fifth-inning homer fest Saturday, then Billings kept hitting the ball and Ogden did not in an eventual rout.

Ogden's Rafael Vazquez and Billings' Logan Lee each took the game into the fifth with one run allowed. But in the top of the fifth, Patrick Mills socked a three-run homer to help put the Mustangs up 5-1.

New Raptors player Chris Coipel, who played a brief stint in Great Falls last season, started Ogden's response with a solo homer in the bottom half. Chris Sargent answered Mills' homer with a three-run blast of his own to tie the game 5-5.

Shane Gustafson took over for Ogden and Evan Blum put Billings back in the lead with a solo homer in the sixth.

The Mustangs eventually tallied 10 runs against Gustafson in 1 1/3 innings, but only three were earned, as Billings scored three runs in the sixth and nine more in the seventh.

Brendan Ryan led Billings, hitting 4 for 5 with five RBIs. Taylor Lomack had four hits in the leadoff spot and Mills, Blum and Blake Evans each had three RBIs.

Outside the two Raptors homers, Connor Bagnieski hit 2 for 3 with a double.

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