Billings captures Pioneer League championship

Mustangs sweep Owlz in best-of-three series

Billings captures Pioneer League championship

Rookie-level Billings was the best team in the Pioneer League in the second half of the season and that success carried over into the playoffs. The Mustangs swept their semifinal series and, Thursday, they completed a sweep in the finals.

In Game 2 of the best-of-three series, Billings defeated the Owlz at Orem, 6-5. It was Billings' first Pioneer League championship since 2003.

The Mustangs started the game well, scoring four runs in the second against right-hander Christopher Ellis, the Angels' No. 3 prospect. Billings added two more in the third against Orem's bullpen to take a 6-0 lead.

But the Owlz didn't go away quietly and cut the deficit to one run in the seventh inning. They threatened in both the eighth and ninth, but left the tying run on third in both innings. The game ended when Juan Moreno lined out to third baseman Taylor Sparks with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

Billings was led by first baseman Kevin Franklin, the Reds' second-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. The 19-year-old went 2-for-5 with a home run and a double. He scored twice and drove in two runs. In four playoff games, he hit .438/.471/.750 and scored four runs.

Center fielder Brian O'Grady went 2-for-4 with a run, a walk and two RBIs. Catcher Garrett Boulware added two hits and two runs.

Right-hander Wyatt Strahan, the Reds' third-round pick in June's Draft, started the game for Billings. He allowed two runs on three hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings. Right-hander Tejay Antone, the club's fifth-round pick this year, relieved him in the fourth and picked up the win. He struck out one batter and allowed two runs on four hits in two innings.

During the regular season, Billings went 41-35 and won the North Division in the second half. It beat Great Falls in their best-of-three semifinal to reach this week's championship series.

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.