Aquino, Mahle help Mustangs win third straight

2014-07-29T23:02:00Z 2014-07-30T08:34:04Z Aquino, Mahle help Mustangs win third straightBy MIKE SCHERTING mscherting@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The 10/10 Club -- reaching double digits in home runs and stolen bases -- isn’t an exclusive one in the Pioneer League. Still, it’s rarified air.

Only one player accomplished the feat last season and nobody did it in 2012. The Mustangs’ Aristides Aquino became the first to do it this season when he stole his 10th base of the season in the seventh inning during Billings’ 5-2 win over Helena on Tuesday night at Dehler Park.

Aquino lashed his 11th home run earlier in the game -- a screaming line drive that just got over the left-field wall -- and drove in three runs as the 20-year-old outfielder again showed that he’s one of the top all-around hitters in the league.

After his 3-for-4 night that included a double and a single to go with his homer, Aquino is batting .314 and leads the league with 38 RBIs and 14 doubles. He’s tied for the home run lead and his .635 slugging percentage ranks second.

“Obviously, he’s very comfortable and relaxed and when you are, it’s fun to play that way,” Mustangs manager Dick Schofield said. “There’s no tentativeness, if that’s the correct word. He doesn’t hold back, he just goes.”

That was certainly the case against the Brewers. Aquino did all his damage seeing just eight pitches in his four at-bats.

“He took advantage of what he saw,” Schofield said. “He’s kind of coming into his own now, and hopefully he has another month of this. From Day 1, he’s done a really good job. It’s fun to watch him.”

It’s also fun being a Mustang right now.

The win tied a season-high third in a row for the club, which resides in first place in the second-half North division standings as it prepares for a brief four-game, two-city road trip starting in Helena on Wednesday.

Winners of five of their last seven, the Mustangs (3-1 in the second half, 20-22 overall) are on one of their best stretches of the season.

“Everyone here is having a good time,” catcher Garrett Boulware said. “We’re having a bunch of people cheer for us and it’s fun. We got two going our way against (Helena) and hopefully we can get two more.”

KEY MOMENT: After his team spotted him a run in the first inning, Mustangs starter Tyler Mahle faced some trouble in the second when Connor Narron doubled and Alan Sharkey reached on an error with one out. But Mahle struck out Luis Aviles and got Eric Williams on a fly out to keep Helena from gaining a foothold.

ON THE MOUND: Mahle (3-4) gave up a monster home run to Narron in the fourth, but that was all in 5 2/3 innings. The Mustangs right-hander had walked six in his previous nine innings, but walked none and allowed just three hits. Brennan Bernadino threw the ninth -- his 16th consecutive scoreless inning -- for his fifth save in as many chances. Jacob Moody and Jefry Sierra also threw for the Mustangs, who allowed five hits.

AT THE PLATE: Aquino (three hits), Brian O’Grady (two) and Boulware (two) accounted for all but two of the Mustangs’ nine hits. O’Grady plated the first run with an RBI double in the first inning and Boulware drove in a run with an RBI single in the fourth. Narron, the son of Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron, was the only Helena batter with two hits.

ON DECK: Soid Marquez gets his second start in place of Jeremy Kivel (soreness) on Wednesday as the Mustangs go for their longest winning streak of the season. “If we pitch well and we catch it, we have a very good chance” to win games, Schofield said. “That’s the same with anybody, but they’ve played well this homestand and I’m really proud of them.”

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