The Pioneer League season has entered the home stretch with teams back in action following the All-Star break. The Ogden Raptors appeared absent Thursday, regrouped, then lost 12-7 to the Billings Mustangs at Dehler Park.
Billings built a 7-0 lead through four innings, in part due to an error-prone Ogden defense. Kevin Malisheski pitched four innings, allowing eight hits and seven runs, but only three were earned.
The Mustangs scored four runs in the second inning, led by a two-RBI double from Juan Martinez, and Drew Mount hit a fourth-inning double as part of a three-run frame.
Ogden (34-17, 8-5) spent the next three innings clawing back. In the fifth, Matt Cogen scored on a wild pitch, Ramon Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly to score James Outman and Jon Littell scored on a throwing error to make it 7-3. But two runners were left on when Eric Peterson hit into a double play.
In the sixth, Cogen hit a two-out triple and was singled home by Outman, who then scored on a Littell double to pull within two at 7-5.
The comeback was complete in the seventh when Dillon Paulson and Ronny Brito singled in runs, making it 7-7.
But it was for naught, as with Yeison Cespedes pitching, Billings (25-25, 10-2) used three hits, including a triple from Bren Spillane, and Ogden’s third error to retake the lead 11-7 in the bottom of the seventh.
Cespedes took the loss. Cogen, Outman and Jeremy Arocho each had two hits for Ogden.
Andrew McDonald picked up the win for Billings, throwing a scoreless, hitless final 2 2/3 innings.
The two teams play Game 2 of a four-game set Friday. Caleb Sampen (0-1, 6.88 ERA, .274 average against) is slated to start for Ogden.
Ogden starter Joel Inoa was sent to Great Lakes on Thursday. Inoa was 4-2 with a 5.05 ERA but recently began settling into a groove. The Raptors received outfielder Andrew Shaps from the Arizona League, who has yet to play in a game this season.