Jose Gomez Delivers Walk-Off Single to Make 13 Lucky, 6-5
They say that 13 is an unlucky number, but it proved to be ideal for the Helena Brewers Thursday night. After falling behind 4-0, the Billings Mustangs battled back twice in this game to tie the score, sending the game to extra-innings. That is when Jose Gomez delivered a bases loaded single to give the Brewers the walk-off 6-5 victory.
Helena jumped out in front in the bottom of the first against Tyler Mondile. Nick Roscetti led off with a single into right field, but was replaced on the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Dallas Carroll. Brent Diaz followed with a base hit to move Carroll to second, but Mondile was able to get Payton Henry to line out. It looked like the Billings starter may escape unscathed, but Gabriel Garcia delivered a clutch two-out double to score both Diaz and Carroll and the Brewers led 2-0.
Billings responded with a run in the top of the second. Nelson Hernandez retired the first two batters of the inning, but Leandro Santana made this a one-run game with his fifth homer of the season. That made it 2-1.
In the bottom of the second, Helena doubled their score. Mondile retired the first two batters of the frame, but the Brewers would benefit from the two-out rally once again. Antonio Pinero singled to center and Roscetti followed with a double down the line in left that moved Pinero to third. Next up was Carroll, who lined a single into center, scoring both runners to make it 4-1.
In the top of the third, the Mustangs responded with a run to cut the deficit to two. The two-out rally reared its head again as Hernandez gave up three straight singles with two down. Jeter Downs and Miles Gordon both lined singles to put runners at first and second, and Stuart Fairchild brought Downs home with a base hit into right that made it 4-2.
Billings was pecking away at the lead and, in the fourth, they tied the score. Andy Sugilio struck out to start the inning, but the third strike got away from the catcher, allowing him to reach first. Two batters later, Alejo Lopez blooped a single into right. With runners at the corners, Pabel Manzanero grounded out, scoring Sugilio to cut the Brewers lead to one. A two-out single by Jake Turnball scored Lopez to tie the game.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Helena Brewers retook the lead. With one down, Carroll drew a walk and scored when Diaz lined a double down the right field line, bringing Carroll all the way around first.
Helena would hang onto that one run lead until the top of the seventh. when Billings would tie the score once again. Turnbull led off by drawing a walk, and the Mustangs chose to pinch run with Zeke White. With Downs at the plate, Diaz fired behind the runner at first, picking him off to erase the runner from the base paths. That proved to be costly, as Downs followed by drilling his second home run of the season over the left-center field wall to tie the score.
From there, this became an incredible battle of bullpens. Brandon Texiera came on in the eighth for Helena and pitched four outstanding innings, allowing 2-hits while striking out 7. Juan Diaz (1-1) came in for the Brewers in the 12th, tossing two scoreless innings as well.
That set up the dramatic 13th, where the Helena Brewers would walk away with the victory. Miguel Aguilar came on to pitch for Billings and found himself in trouble right away. Henry reached on an error to start the inning and was pinch run for by Charlie Meyer. Garcia followed with a walk, and Zach Clark then delivered a base hit into left field that loaded the bases with no one out. That brought José Gomez to the plate, who lined a single into right field, scoring Meyer with the winning run.
Six players in the Brewers lineup had at least 2-hits in the game. Jose Gomez, who had taken over in right field for Yerald Martinez, was a perfect 2-2 with the game-winning RBI. Brent Diaz was 3-6 with a run and RBI. Zach Clark extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a 2-hit performance. Billings was led by Jeter Downs, who was 2-6 with a run scored and an RBI.
These two teams go at it again Friday evening. Matt Blandino (2-0, 3.94) goes to the hill for Billings. He will be opposed by Alec Bettinger (1-0, 1.69). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier