Mustangs right fielder Andy Sugilio

Billings left fielder Andy Sugilio, pictured June 22 at Dehler, slammed a two-run home run to lead the Mustangs over the Great Falls Voyagers 4-2 in a home game Sunday. 

REBECCA NOBLE, Gazette Staff

First-year Billings Mustangs left fielder Andy Sugilio stepped to the plate knowing he had an opportunity to deliver for his new team and home crowd.

The 20-year-old made the most of it.  

Facing a one-run deficit and two outs in the third inning, the Dominican Republic native belted an Adam Panayotovich pitch high and over the right-field wall. Although early in the game, the two-run blast would end up as the exclamation point on the Mustangs' 4-2 win over the Great Falls Voyagers.  

With the victory, Billings improved to 9-5 and remains in first place in the Pioneer League North. 

The Mustangs dugout erupted after Sugilio's homer and he was eager to celebrate with them in a flurry of high fives.   

"I was excited and hyped with my teammates," said Spanish-speaking Sugilio through designated hitter Alejo Lopez, who served as his translator. "They're the ones that are always there and cheering for me. I respect that and I'm honored by that, so every time I do something well I go to my teammates." 

The Mustangs struck first in the first inning off a Leandro Santana infield single that was mishandled by Voyagers shortstop Max Dutto, allowing Jeter Downs to score from second base.

Great Falls, who has now dropped five games in a row to fall to 6-8, battled back in the second inning. With two outs, Dutto scored from second on a Carlos Perez double and Nolan Brown then doubled to send Perez home and take a 2-1 lead.

In the third inning, the Mustangs' Stuart Fairchild grounded out, Montrell Marshall singled and Santana struck out looking to set the stage for Sugilio's big hit.

For Sugilio, who played last season with the Arizona League Reds and the previous two years with the Dominican Summer League Rojos, the outcome of his deciding swing was never in doubt.  

"My approach to the play was knowing that I was in charge," he said. The home run was his second of the season and the third of his career. 

Two batters later, Lopez scored from third on a wild Panayotovich pitch to give the Mustangs the final 4-2 lead.   

Starting pitcher Matt Blandino earned the win in six innings, allowing two runs — both earned — five hits and four strikeouts.

A pair of rookies in the Mustangs bullpen preserved the lead, allowing most of the 2,419 fans to go home happy. 

Ryan Nutof tossed two scoreless innings while striking out one and closer Connor Ryan, in his pro debut, finished the final inning with two strikeouts.  

Sitting atop the division standings and with a chance to sweep Great Falls on Monday, Sugilio is confident the Mustangs can maintain their momentum.  

"I think we have a great team this season," said Sugilio. "The main thing will be to stay healthy and keep our same approach."     

   

Email Luke Shelton at lshelton@billingsgazette.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsShelt

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