One night after being held to just four hits, the Missoula Osprey offense rebounded to beat the Idaho Falls Chukars, 8-1, in a decisive Game 3 of the Pioneer League Championship Series.
The two teams exchanged blows over the first two games of the best-of-three series: Missoula won Game 1, 17-9, behind a 15-hit attack including four home runs, while Idaho Falls took Game 2 on Tuesday, coming back from an early deficit to win 5-3.
The Shukars struck first Wednesday, pushing across a run in the top of the fourth on back-to-back doubles by first baseman Joshua Banuelos and designated hitter Brandon Dulin. After that, however, it was all Osprey.
Missoula starter Bo Takahashi was solid over 3 2/3 innings -- allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out four -- but it was the bullpen that stole the show, as five Osprey relievers combined to hold Idaho Falls to just three hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings to seal the win. 2014 10th-rounder Scott Schultz, who replaced Takahashi, was credited with the win for the second time in the series.
Missoula took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, as first baseman Austin Byler and third baseman Kal Simmons tallied an RBI with a single and sacrifice fly, respectively. They tacked on another run in the fifth courtesy of another sacrifice fly, this time courtesy of second baseman Raymel Flores.
A four-run sixth inning saw the Osprey extend its lead to 8-1. With one run already in, center fielder Joey Armstrong busted the game open with a two-RBI double to right field, and shortstop Isan Diaz pushed across the final run of the frame with a two-out knock.
Several of the Diamondbacks' 2015 Draft picks had a big postseason for Missoula.
Outfielder Jason Morozowski was arguably the top hitter in during the Pioneer League playoffs, as the 2015 13th-rounder collected at least one hit in all six postseason games en route to batting .480 (12-for-25) with six extra-base hits and seven RBIs. The 21-year-old spent his entire professional debut with the Osprey, batting .292/.369/.479 with six home runs, 27 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs in 63 regular-season contests.
After posting a 1.058 OPS and pacing the Pioneer League in home runs (15) and RBIs (57) during the regular season, Byler, an 11th-round selection, batted .364 with three home runs and six RBIs in the playoffs. Simmons struggled after being selected in the eighth round, batting .222 with a .588 OPS and 18 RBIs in 50 games for Missoula, but righted the ship in time to bat .333 with three extra-base hits and seven RBIs in the postseason.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.