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Stovall’s clutch single delivers in 10th inning

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Before he became the game's hero, Tyler Stovall had chased a curveball and struck out in a previous at-bat Wednesday night at Dehler Park.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice … well, it never got that far.

Stovall delivered a hit up the middle on a curveball from Orem pitcher Mike Piazza, driving in the winning run as the Mustangs beat the Owlz 6-5 in 10 innings.

Stovall was given the opportunity after Yen-Wen Kuo led off the 10th with a single, was bunted over to second base by Chris Richburg - with two strikes, no less - and went to third on Thomas Nurre's groundout.

Stovall, a second-year Mustang and a 20th-round draft choice by the Cincinnati Reds in 2008, knew what to expect in crunch time.

"I took the first pitch of the at-bat to see one, and it was a curveball," Stovall said. "So I was sitting on another one. He threw one in the same spot, and I just tried to go up the middle with it."

The victory was the Mustangs' second in a row and served as a thrilling start to their seven-game home stand.

The first half of the Pioneer League season has not been kind to Billings (7-14), but Wednesday's victory could serve as a breakthrough.

"We played pretty well on the road trip we just got back from," Stovall said. "We have our everyday lineups and guys are seeing their roles on the team. I think the more we do that the more we'll click together."

The game was delayed approximately 10 minutes in between the sixth and seventh innings when home plate umpire Yuta Niide left the field because of an injury.

Niide, who suffered a concussion earlier in the year, took a foul ball off his mask a couple of innings earlier and chose not to continue.

"He kept feeling worse and worse as the game went on," Mustangs manager Julio Garcia said. "In those situations, it's better to be safe."

Bryan Field, originally the field umpire, took over behind the plate and finished the game as its lone official.

Field had to make a crucial call at home plate in the top of the ninth inning when Orem pinch runner Kevin Ramos tried to score on Tyler Mann's fly ball to center field.

Ramos tagged at third after Alex Oliveras made the catch and was called safe standing up on a bang-bang play at home.

The run tied the score 5-5 and sent it to an extra frame.

"It's one that was hard to call," Mustangs catcher Chris McMurray said. "From my perspective, I think he was out. It's a judgment call. But you can't fault Bryan. He's working out there by himself. I'm just looking to get the win."

"That's a good victory," Garcia said. "When you can get one especially in those circumstances, it's nice."

It marked the second time in less than a year that an umpire was forced to finish a game solo at Dehler Park.

On Aug. 1, 2008, in a game between Billings and Missoula, plate ump Blake Davis took a pitch to the mask and left the field on a stretcher. Field umpire Erik Hill finished the game alone behind the plate.

NOTES: Wednesday's game was the first extra-inning affair of the season for the Mustangs. … Nurre, a 38th-round pick by the Reds in June, made his Dehler Park debut. … Kuo finished with three hits for Billings, while Nurre and Stovall each delivered two. … Orem's Michael Wing went 4-for-5, while Mann finished with three RBIs. … Orem at one stretch retired 13 consecutive Mustangs hitters. Starter Stephen Locke sat down 12 in a row.


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