Billings Improves to 4-1

The short season is still young and Billings has gotten off to a hot start. A shutout win Monday improved their record to 4-1. Of course big offensive numbers are expected in the Pioneer League and the Mustangs are doing that. What's been especially impressive has been their pitching in the first week.

The Billings Mustangs are off to a nice start, coming off a 7-0 win at Missoula. The victory improved their record to 4-1 and which gives them an early season two game lead atop the Pioneer League North Division. The fans at Billings are coming off a disappointing end to last year's season when the Mustangs failed to make the playoffs by losing their final three games. If the first week of this season is any indication they should be in the hunt again this year. They've scored the second most runs in the league and their team ERA of 2.00 after give games is far and away the lowest.

They jumped on the Osprey early Monday when Carlos Sanchez cracked a three-run home run in the first inning. He struck again in the third by leading off with a single and later scoring on a wild pitch. Jon Matthews added on in the next inning with a solo home run. The Mustangs weren't done because in the sixth Robert Ramirez led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch before Ty Washington singled and eventually scored on a Gabriel Rosa single. Washington was no stranger on the base paths with two singles and a walk. Sanchez and Ramirez also contributed two hits each to the attack. Matthews and Rosa both reached twice with a hit and a walk.

On the mound fourth round draft pick Ben Lively made his professional debut and turned in a lively start. The right-hander was limited to three shutout innings over which he allowed only one hit, one walk and struck out six. He didn't last long enough to pick up the win which went to Nolan Becker who relieved him with three scoreless innings. Nick Fleece and Robert Lewis-Walker finished the shutout with one and two innings respectively.

2011 43rd round selection Washington has started the season with a hot bat going 6-14 (.429) after hitting .270 in the Arizona League last year. Catcher Daniel Paula currently leads the team in hitting by going 6-11 (.545). This year's top draft selection Phillip Ervin has started his professional career by going 7-17 (.412). Avain Rachal is 4-11 (.364) after three games played and Jonathan Reynoso is 6-18 (.333) after cracking .300 at Arizona last season.

The Mustangs have been getting the job done on the mound too. Lively, Amir Garrett, and Jose Guzman all turned in scoreless starts in their season debut and Luke Moran allowed only one run in five innings. Seven different relievers still have zero ERA's and have combined for fourteen scoreless appearances.

Defensively they've made six errors in the first five games but only given up one unearned run. Strong offense, pitching and defense are a good recipe for winning games. There's still a lot of baseball left to be played and most any top performer is a candidate for a promotion. Still after five games into the short season Billings is making noises like they will be the team to beat in their division in 2013.

Other Organizational News:

Louisville scored a single run in each of the first four innings in their 4-2 win over visiting Rochester. Neftali Soto hit an RBI-single to provide lead in the first inning. A Jason Donald triple followed by a double off the bat of Nevin Ashley tied the game in the second. Emmanuel Burris led off the next inning with a single and scored on a double play to give his team the lead and Donald delivered a run-scoring hit for insurance in the fourth. Soto, Donald, Ashley, and Josh Fellhauer each had two of the eleven Bat hits. Daniel Corcino had his best outing of the season and took the win by allowing two runs on seven hits in seven-plus innings. One of the top prospects in the Reds organization, Corcino has been plagued with control issues since arriving at AAA but he did not allow a walk Monday. Zach Duke and Logan Ondrusek finished up the game without allowing a run and Ondrusek got the save.

Pensacola scored two in the ninth in a 3-2 win over visiting Mississippi. Marquez Smith led off the fifth with a double and later scored on a sac fly to tie the score. The Wahoos won on a walk-off, pinch hit, two-run triple by Theo Bowe. Smith finished with two of his team's five hits while Devin Lohman singled and walked. Chad Rogers's first start since June 2 was brief but effective. He got no decision for allowing one run on two hits in four innings with six strikeouts against one walk. Jamie Walczak relieved him with three scoreless innings. Drew Hayes allowed a run in two innings pitched and was the pitcher of record for the win.

Bakersfield was the only Reds affiliate to lose on the day in a 6-3 defeat to visiting Lancaster. Carlos Contreras got the start and took the loss by allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in six innings while striking out eight. Juan Silva led off the first inning with a walk and scored on a groundout and then tied the score by singling in David Vidal who led off the next inning with a double. Vidal came back to hit a solo homer in the sixth, but it was not enough for the comeback. Silva and Vidal both reached safely three times with two hits and a walk. Steve Selsky added a couple of singles while Ryan Wright reached via a hit and a walk.

Dayton scored four in the fifth and held on for a 7-3 home win over Lansing. Beau Amaral led off the first with a single and crossed the plate after a walk, wild pitch, and passed ball. Sammy Diaz plated the next Dragon run in the fourth when he singled in Joe Hudson. Zach Vincej had doubled that inning, but was gunned down at home on the play. The Dragons started the game-winning rally by leading off the inning with three singles before Jeff Gelalich reached safely on a bunt. Hudson and Amaral delivered run-scoring hits to complete their team's scoring on the day. The Dragons pounded out sixteen hits in the game led by Hudson who stroked three. Amaral, Diaz, Seth Mejias-Brean, Junior Arias, and Vincej all had two apiece. Seven Dragon hitters reached base safely twice in the contest including Mejias-Brean who drew a couple of walks in addition to his hits. Drew Cisco got the win by allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings. Joel Bender and Sean Lucas combined for three scoreless innings of relief with Lucas tossing the last two and getting the save.

The AZL Reds were idle and will host the AZL Dodgers on Tuesday.

The DSL Reds opened up a four-run lead with three in the fourth and pulled away for an 8-2 win at the DSL White Sox. Miguel Mendez and Raynar Guererro had four hits apiece for the Reds and Francis Guererro added three more. Jose Veras got the start and allowed two runs (one earned) in four-plus innings. Joyce Hernandez relieved him with two-plus scoreless frames for the win.

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