MISSOULA — Dean Nevarez, who sparked a seventh-inning rally with a solo home run, hit two home runs in the second knockout round Wednesday night to send the Missoula PaddleHeads to a Pioneer League win over the Billings Mustangs at Ogren Park.
The PaddleHeads (28-18 second half) rallied from a four-run deficit to close in on the Northern Division’s second-half title while at the same time putting a dent in the postseason hopes of the Mustangs (26-20).
Missoula also won the first-half pennant, meaning if it clinches the second half as well, the division’s second playoff spot would go to Idaho Falls by virtue of the next-best overall record. Billings needs to win both remaining games of this series to reach the playoffs.
Christian Sepulveda hit two homers in the first round of the knockout, but Missoula’s Jason Newman equaled Sepulveda’s effort.
Anthony Amicangelo followed with one home run for the Mustangs in the second round before Nevarez went deep twice to seal the victory after the game was tied 6-6 after nine innings.
Zach Almond got the PaddleHeads on the board early with his 26th home run, a solo shot in the bottom of the second. AJ Wright, McLain O’Connor and Nick Gatewood also had RBIs for Missoula.
Sepulveda hit a two-run triple as part of a four-run fifth inning that gave the Mustangs a 5-1 lead. Sepulveda also hit a run-scoring single in the top of the ninth to tie the score 6-6.
The teams play again at 7:05 p.m. Thursday and Friday in Missoula to wrap up the regular season.