Billings, Montana Three dominant relievers, two runs scored by the offense, one nervy Vibes’ victory.
Using strong work off the mound and a single big swing, the Vibes topped the Mustangs 2-1 on Friday night.
It came with accompanying drama. Billings rallied in the ninth, threatening to sneak out a win. James Free reached on an Ernesto Martinez error to lead off. Reliever Taylor Floyd next beaned Victor Ruiz followed by a single to right, loading the bases with one out. After falling behind 3-0, Floyd induced a comebacker for the second out. Floyd sealed the victory with a game-ending fly out.
The Vibes offense delivered the haymaker in the fourth, plating a pair of runs. Carlos Rodriguez reached on a walk to lead things off. Back-to-back groundouts placed Rodriguez at third. This time the Vibes took advantage. Nick Kahle blasted his 6th homer of year to give the Vibes a 2-0 lead.
The Vibes threatened early in the first. Rodriguez led off with a single to center before moving to second on a wild pitch. Rodriguez moved up 90 feet on a groundout, putting himself at third with two outs and Kahle at the plate. A ball in Kahle’s at-bat scampered away from Mustangs’ catcher James Free on the fifth pitch of the at-bat. Free was able to recover and throw out Rodriguez trying to advance home, ending the frame.
Defense bit the Vibes in the bottom of the sixth. Reliever Arman Sabouri retired the first two batters on groundouts before allowing a two-out double to the Mustangs’ TJ Hopkins. A routine groundball booted by second baseman Luís Avila ushered home Hopkins, shaving the Vibes lead to one. Avila committed another fielding error on the next batter but Sabouri worked out of trouble, inducing an inning-ending fly out.
Vibes’ starter Brock Begue made quick work of Billings in his four-scoreless innings. Begue allowed three hits, no walks, and struck out three. Begue’s command matched his outing, throwing 40 strikes in 54 pitches in his sixth start of the season.
In his first appearance since July 4, reliever Steve Pastora tossed a scoreless fifth, yielding two hits in the inning. Sabouri took over in the sixth, recording the win in three scoreless innings. Sabouri allowed a run (unearned) on one hit and a strikeout. Floyd earned his first save, allowing one hit and hitting a batter in the ninth.
First baseman Ernesto Martinez made his first start Friday night in Billings since his scary collision in Grand Junction on July 27. Martinez appeared in the game last night as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning, striking out in his only at-bat.
The game was delayed 32 minutes because of weather in the area.
The Vibes continue their eight-game road trip with the third game of the four-game series against the Billings Mustangs. The second half of the road trip begins on Monday with a four-game series with the Great Falls Voyagers.