The Billings Mustangs weren’t about to drop a second game to the Brewers in as many nights, as they crushed the Brewers 9-2 on Friday in front of 987 fans at Kindrick Legion Field.
The Brewers (9-10) grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second inning, but couldn’t hold on as the Mustangs (12-7) came storming back in the fourth.
“Inconsistent,” Helena manager Nestor Corredor said. “We started really good offensively, and then got in their pitching plans and swinging at bad pitches. (Alec) Bettinger unfortunately coming in tried to keep us close in the game but he gave up four so he kind of got away from the plan. He was supposed to be three or four innings today, and he came up short. But those games happen.”
Helena split against the Mustangs in Billings, 1-1, and then split again in Helena. Thursday’s 6-5 victory ensured the Brewers would at least split the four-game series overall.
The Brewers were without Charlie Meyer, as he advanced to a high A-affiliate on the east coast, the Carolina Mudcats. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound catcher played in six games in Helena, going 1 for 6 at the plate for a .167 batting average and .500 on-base percentage.
A few other rosters moves are expected to become official on Saturday.
Billings' Jeter Downs singled and then Francis Azcona singled to right field to get things started. Stuart Fairchild grounded into a double play, but the Brewers were resigned to trade the two outs for a run as Downs scored.
Jay Feliciano equalized the game, blasting a 0-0 pitch over the high over the left field wall for a solo homer. It was Feliciano’s third home run of the season.
A footrace led to the Brewers' second run of the game. Alejo Lopez fielded a grounder behind third base with the bases loaded. Lopez elected to race Yeraldy Martinez, who darted from second. Martinez slid into third safely, which allowed Zach Clark to score and give the Brewers a lead.
Billings' Mitch Trees scored a run in the top of the fourth when he hit a ground-rule double on a line drive to right field, tying the game at two. Zeke Single singled to bring into two more runs. Carlos Rivero, who entered the game in the second inning for Jake Turnbull, then hit a grounder single that scored another run.
The Mustangs kept the heat on in the fifth. Lopez drew a bases-loaded walk to score a run, and then Trees struck again on a line drive single that scored two more runs.
“The good thing is we’ve been playing really good, so tomorrow is another day,” Corredor said.
In two innings, the Mustangs put up seven runs and jumped out to an 8-2 lead.
Alec Bettinger (1-1) started on the mound for the Brewers on Friday, and took the loss after a shaky outing. He pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up five hits and four earned runs while walking three and striking out one.
Matt Blandino (3-0) started on the mound for the Mustangs and took home the win. Blandino went six innings and fooled batters, striking out three while giving up four hits and one earned run, the home run.
The Brewers' relievers didn’t fare any better until the final four innings.
Michael Petersen pitched for 2/3 an inning and gave up five hits, four earned runs and walked two to go with one strikeout.
Robbie Hitt went 2 2/3, striking out four -- perhaps the cleanest outing of any Brewer.
Braulio Ortiz finished the game off, and had a wild start to his outing.
While warming up, Ortiz hurled a pitch into the back stop. When he got his hand on the ball and fired to second base to close out the pre-inning warmup, his toss didn’t find a recipient, as his intended target didn’t’ see it coming. The whole scene served as a fitting, 10-second microcosm of the Brewers’ off night -- though Ortiz did bounce back to strike out three, while giving up a hit, one earned run and two walks.
The Brewers finished with four hits, as Billings racked up 11.
For the Brewers, it’s a quick reset as the club welcomes in the Missoula Osprey on Saturday to open up a three-game series.
Dylan File (0-0, 4.5 ERA) will be on the mound for the Brewers with first pitch scheduled for 7:35 p.m. The event is also Fireworks Night at the ball park.