Four pitchers combine on 2-hitter as Mustangs top Owlz

2014-08-08T22:41:00Z 2014-08-09T15:20:04Z Four pitchers combine on 2-hitter as Mustangs top OwlzBy MIKE SCHERTING mscherting@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

It seems Wyatt Strahan hardly broke a sweat in his 10th start of the season.

Why, the 6-foot-3 right-hander threw nearly as many warm-up pitches as game pitches. And when his outing was over Friday night, Strahan had to throw in the bullpen just to reach his pitch count as the rest of his Billings Mustangs teammates finished off the Orem Owlz 5-2 at Dehler Park.

Strahan needed just 28 pitches to get through three perfect innings. And just like that, the third-round pick out of Southern California had reached the limits put upon him by the Cincinnati Reds, largely because of the 100-plus college innings he’d thrown this season for the Trojans.

“It’s three innings or 55 pitches, so I was under the impression it was 55 pitches,” Strahan said. “And so after the third when (manager Dick Schofield) comes up to shake my hand and says, ‘That’s it,’ I said, ‘That wasn’t 55 pitches.’

“He said, ‘Or three innings.’ So I said, ‘OK, fine.’ ”

Schofield would have loved to let Strahan go. But limits are limits.

“The way he was going I think he could have easily got through five,” Schofield said. “But that’s the way it is. That was an outstanding job.”

Strahan was just the tone-setter. Seth Varner (3-1), Ty Sterner and Brennan Bernardino combined with Strahan on a two-hitter and shut out the Owlz for 8 1/3 innings before the wheels finally started to wobble. In the end, though, it was probably one of the better pitching nights for the Mustangs.

It’s the fifth outing Strahan hasn’t allowed an earned run. Though he lowered his ERA to 3.29, his record stands at 0-3, and unless the Reds loosen the reigns on him a little bit – which isn’t likely – Strahan will never reach the required five innings to qualify for a victory.

“It’s frustrating when you look back and think I pitched pretty well that game” and not have a win to show for it, he said. “But at the end of the day, if the team gets the win, I mean, I feel just as good about that.”

KEY MOMENT: This one belonged to the Mustangs the entire way. Even when Sterner couldn't locate his pitches in the ninth, it didn’t appear the Owlz had enough hitting this night to take advantage.

ON THE MOUND: How efficient were the Mustangs pitchers? They needed just 82 pitches to get through the first eight innings, never throwing more than 13 in an inning until the ninth. Varner, the second pitcher, retired nine straight after allowing a double to the first batter he faced. Sterner followed and set down seven of the first eight he faced until he had some control issues and walked the next two, requiring the services of Bernardino, who got the last two outs despite some early wildness.

AT THE PLATE: Overshadowed by the spectacular pitching was a three-RBI night from Argenis Aldazoro, who hit a two-run home run in the third and an RBI single in the fourth. Combined with his two-run pinch-hit single in the ninth inning of Thursday’s loss to Grand Junction, Aldazoro drove in five runs in a stretch of three consecutive at-bats. Josciel Veras also homered for the Mustangs.

UP NEXT: Game two of this three-game series is Saturday night at 7:05. Tyler Mahle (3-4, 4.84) is scheduled to pitch for the Mustangs.

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