MISSOULA — The second half of the Pioneer League season began the same way much of the first half played out — with the Missoula PaddleHeads on the winning side.
Missoula, the first-half Northern division champion, won its fifth straight game and fourth in a row against Billings with a 12-6 victory Saturday night at Ogren-Allegiance Park. The PaddleHeads have now won nine of their last 11, and have so far scored 56 runs in the series with the Mustangs.
The PaddleHeads led 8-0 after a five-run fourth inning in which they collected three extra-base hits — RBI doubles from Luke Navigato, Jared Akins and Skylar Black — to chase Mustangs starter Kelvan Pilot from the game.
Meanwhile, Missoula starter Jason Seever threw five shutout innings to earn the win, allowing four hits while striking out two and walking one.
Missoula's Cameron Thompson homered in the first and Nick Gatewood went long in the seventh, adding to the team's league-leading home run total, which is now at 78.
The Mustangs got on the board in the seventh on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jesus Azuaje. They loaded the bases and scored five times in the eighth, twice on wild pitches and once on a balk, to make the score 9-6.
Akins had another RBI double to help Missoula pad its advantage in the eighth.
The loss was the fourth in a row for Billings. The Mustangs and PaddleHeads play the fifth game of their six-game series Sunday at 5:05 p.m. at Ogren-Allegiance Park.