On a night when the Mustangs’ lineup was scattered with teenagers, a couple “veterans” helped lead the way.
Ty Washington, only 20 but in his second season with the Pioneer League team, had another big night. Four-year college player Brian O’Grady turned in a nifty defensive play to end the top of the ninth, and started the game-winning rally in the bottom half with a walk as the Mustangs earned an 8-7 comeback win over Great Falls on Wednesday at Dehler Park.
Washington tied the game with a two-run double and two batters later scored the winning run when Great Falls pitcher Grant Monroe bounced a pitch between the legs of catcher Zach Stoner, sending the Mustangs (2-1) to their second straight win.
“My eyes got about as big as a bowling ball” when he saw Monroe’s pitch go the backstop, Washington said. “I just took off. I was hoping something like that would happen.”
Four of the Mustangs’ position players in Wednesday’s lineup have yet to celebrate their 20th birthday and two more are only 20, yet the team showed a stick-to-it-ness that perhaps belied its collective age. The Mustangs trailed 3-0 after the first inning, lost a 5-3 lead by the sixth, and were down to their final three outs before snatching victory from defeat.
“At this level, just about anything can happen at any given time,” said Mustangs manager Dick Schofield, who shrugged off the relative youth of his lineup. “That’s why you have 27 outs, you just keep on battling. I thought our guys did a great job of that.”
O’Grady, an eighth-round pick earlier this month out of Rutgers, was making his first start. He reached base three times, scored twice, drove in a third-inning run for a 5-3 lead, and then started the ninth with a four-pitch walk. But it might have been him starting a 3-6-3 double play to end the top of the ninth that got things going.
“There’s young guys on here, but they’re all mature,” said O’Grady, who moved from the outfield to first base in his senior season at Rutgers. “I guess, in a sense, I feel I’m the older guy. I went to college for all four years so I kind of took my lumps and bruises there and learned along the way. Some of these guys are still going through it, so I think I can help a little bit.”
KEY MOMENT: Though the Mustangs did make three errors, they also had several big plays besides O’Grady’s in the ninth. One of those came in the top of the eighth when center fielder Nick Benedetto went a long way to flag down Ethan Gross’s long drive to right-center for the second out with two Voyagers on base. Had that ball dropped it’s likely Great Falls would have tacked on two more runs.
ON THE MOUND: Mustangs relievers Jacob Moody, Jose Williams, Ty Sterner and Wagner Gomez (1-0) shut the Voyagers out over the game’s final 32/3 innings. The Voyagers got three shutout innings from Anthony Santiago, who faced just 10 batters during his stint.
AT THE PLATE: Washington had his second consecutive three-hit night. He finished the opening series 6 for 13. Josciel Veras got the Mustangs on the board with a two-run double in the second inning. Chevy Clarke of Great Falls had a perfect night. He was 3 for 3 and reached base in all five of his appearances.
ON DECK: The Mustangs leave Billings for their first road trip of the season, a six-game swing that starts Thursday night in Helena.