MISSOULA – Jimmy Pickens and Ty Washington hit eighth-inning home runs to help Billings to a 3-2 win over the Missoula Osprey and salvage what would have been a frustrating night for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs stranded 12 base runners through the first seven innings before Kevin Franklin led off the eighth with a double with his team trailing 2-0. Pickens followed with his first homer of the season, and two batters later Washington clubbed his second home run to break the deadlock and put the Mustangs ahead.
Jeremy Kivel allowed two runs in the second inning, but Kivel, Jose Williams, Jacob Moody and Jefry Sierra shut out the Osprey over the final seven frames. Moody (1-0) threw a perfect seventh and eighth, while Sierra hit the first batter he faced in the ninth but stranded him at third and picked up his second save.
Taylor Sparks, a second-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds, joined the Mustangs in Missoula and started for the first time on Thursday. He doubled in his fourth at-bat of the game to pick up his first professional hit.
Billings (9-8) moved into second place in the North Division and remained one-half game behind Great Falls. The Mustangs and Osprey (9-9) finish their four-game series on Friday night.