Mustangs infielder Taylor Wrenn couldn’t help but laugh when talking about teammate Carlos Sanchez’s speed — or lack thereof.
“He’s slow. Very slow. Just to confirm that,” Wrenn said.
It’s not necessarily a case of the tortoise keeping pace with the hare, but with two more triples in Billings’ 8-2 rubber-game victory over Idaho Falls on Wednesday Sanchez suddenly finds himself in a tie for the Pioneer League lead in three-baggers.
Sanchez and David Dahl, Grand Junction’s speedy center fielder and league MVP candidate, top the list with eight triples apiece.
Though less than fleeting, the 215-pound Sanchez does run pretty well. He has taken advantage of Dehler Park’s cavernous outfield, not to mention his mentality at the crack of the bat.
“The one thing for Carlos is though he may not be real fast, as soon as he hits it he’s thinking triple all the way,” said Mustangs manager Pat Kelly. “Which is great. That’s the way you should run.”
Kelly says Dehler “is a good triples park. It’s a big outfield. There’s a lot of room to cover. If you hit the ball in the gap or into the corner you’ve got a chance.”
The Mustangs took advantage of Idaho Falls’ defensive positioning. The Chukars over-shifted in right field twice against Sanchez, and he put two balls into the corner in the fourth and eighth innings and didn’t stop running until he reached third base.
Each of Sanchez’s triples plated Dan Pigott. The first one tied the game while the second was part of a five-run eighth-inning outburst.
Wrenn also tripled to the same spot down the right-field line in the fifth and later scored the go-ahead run on a single from Beau Amaral. That helped Mustangs starter Sal Romano (4-4) gain the victory.
Romano was the star of the show. In five innings, Romano gave up one earned run and five hits while striking out a career-high nine. He didn’t allow a walk.
“The first two innings he really had his curveball going, and I thought he was really aggressive with his fastball,” Kelly explained. “He pounded the zone with it, and he was able to elevate with two strikes and get some strikeouts. He just pitched with a lot more confidence tonight I thought.”
The Mustangs will send right-handed starter Jon Moscot to the mound Thursday when they open a four-game series with the Ogden Raptors at Dehler Park. Kelly said Moscot, a rookie product of Pepperdine University, will throw three innings.
Inside the series
The Mustangs increased their league-leading triples total to 30. SS Brandon Dailey and OF Jon Matthews each tripled in a 3-0 win over Idaho Falls on Tuesday. In all, they had six triples in the series. … Chukars SS Adalberto Mondesi went 0 for 12 with nine strikeouts in three games against Mustangs pitchers. Mondesi is the 17-year-old son of former major league all-star Raul Mondesi. … Chukars rookie RHP Zeb Sneed returned to Dehler Park but did not make an appearance. Sneed last played at Northwest Nazarene University of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, a rival of Montana State Billings. Sneed was a 11th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals in June.