The Pioneers scored runs in every inning and the Riverton Raiders scored in all but two in what was the highest-scoring game of the Pioneers’ season.
Frankie Vogt led the offense with four RBIs and a run on three hits. Hayden Cragoe drove in three rubs on a bases-clearing double in the top of the third, scored five times and drew three walks. Brendon Phister rapped out four hits and scored five runs, and Cory Heny scored four runs and drove in another on two hits and three walks.
“We were taking pitches better than we did in Belgrade (at the Boys of Summer Invitational),” head coach Jason Borders said.
The game was one of two games scheduled to make up for last week’s postponed doubleheader, however, Riverton did not want to use more pitchers by playing a second game, so it was called off.
The win, however ugly, was a welcomed after a tough four-day stretch in Belgrade where in the Pioneers went 1-4.
“I didn’t expect to win the (tournament) but I expected to play a little better,” Borders said.
Powell played the Idaho Falls Knights shortly after hopping off the bus Thursday and promptly took it on the chin, losing 16-6 over five brutal innings.
Powell had won a tight 4-2 contest against Cody less than 24 hours earlier.
“I don’t know if we were mentally ready for it,” Borders said.
The Knights scored in every inning, putting up three, five, one, three and four runs against Powell’s pitching duo of Bryce Wright (one-and-one-third innings, five hits, eight earned runs, three walks and two strikeouts) and Matt Brown (three-and-two-third innings, eight hits, eight runs, seven earned, four strikeouts).
The Pioneers responded with single runs in the first and third innings, and four in the fifth and final inning.
Brendon Phister went 2-for-2 with a double, walk, RBI and run scored. Grady Sanders’ lone hit was a two-run double in Powell’s last-ditch fifth-inning effort. Hayden Cragoe had two hits in three at-bats and scored once. Frankie Vogt hit an RBI single in the fifth and drove in the Pioneers’ first run on a sac fly in the first. He also walked once, scored once, and stole second.
Powell was well on its way to bouncing back during the first of Friday’s two games.
Gage Henderson hit two RBI triples and scored twice during Powell’s six-hit, nine-run third inning, which put the Pioneers up 9-2 and in firm control against the Columbia Basin River Dogs.
Vogt went 3-for-4 in the game, including an RBI triple of his own in the same third inning in which he scored twice. Sanders, who started on the mound for the Pioneers, went 2-for-2 with a run scored. Wright had an RBI single and scored.
The Pioneers were rolling on all cylinders, but the game, and in some ways the Pioneers’ tournament, would unravel just one inning later.
When catcher Jared Wantulok dropped a third strike that allowed the River Dogs’ fourth-inning lead-off batter to reach first, no one could have imagined the trouble that was starting for the Pioneers.
Columbia scored four runs off Sanders before his day on the rubber ended after hitting a batter to load the bases. He recorded no outs in the fourth.
Matt Brown replaced Sanders and struck out the first batter he faced, but could do little after that to stop the bleeding.
After all was said and done, the River Dogs had scored 10 runs on three hits (two singles and a double), two walks, one hit batsman and three Powell errors. Neither team would score again and Powell lost 12-9.
“I think we gave them like seven outs from that inning on basic plays we should have made to get Grady out of that inning,” Borders said.
Brown pitched two innings, gave up two hits, three walks and no earned runs. Sanders gave up nine runs (four earned) over three innings of work. He allowed seven hits and four walks and struck out two.
The Pioneers dropped Friday’s evening game in less-dramatic fashion, losing 11-3 to the tournament host, the Belgrade Bandits.
Five Powell errors, including three during Belgrade’s five-run fifth inning, and a wild pitch led to 11 runs for the Bandits.
“It almost reminds me of the beginning of the year,” Borders said. “This time, we’re a better baseball team and we moved up against better competition and we went back to our old ways.”
The usually steady Cory Heny had a rough go of it on the mound. Heny, who relies on getting outs from manageable contact, got little help from his defense. He gave up nine hits, five walks and struck out two. Only five of the Bandits’ 11 runs were earned. Heny threw 102 pitches in five innings.
Powell scored two runs in the second and one in the fourth.
The Pioneers had a chance to pile on the runs in the second inning when they loaded the bases with no outs. Matt Sweet and Wantulok both went 1-for-2 in the game but each struck out swinging in their chance to drive in the waiting Powell base runners. The Pioneers did manage a pair of runs and a momentary lead when they turned their lineup and got RBI singles from Heny and Cragoe, putting them up 2-1.
Heny would drive in another run on a fielder’s choice in the fourth. Powell got no offense from its three-through-seven hitters, who went a combined 0-for-11.
The weekend saw Powell return to its winning ways, if only for a couple innings.
The Pioneers beat the Livingston Braves 8-3 behind Hayden Cragoe’s seven-inning, nine-strikeout outing — the best by a Powell pitcher during the tournament.
But it looked for a while like the Pioneers were going to waste Cragoe’s effort. Powell scored eight runs on eight hits in the game’s final two innings to come back from a late 3-0 hole and prevent the losing streak from getting to four games.
The top of the Pioneers order led the way. Heny went 3-for-4 with an RBI single and two runs scored. Cragoe followed with a double, single, two RBIs and two runs scored in four at-bats. Vogt, who went 2-for-3, hit a two-run double in the sixth, stole third and then scored on a double by Henderson.
Powell’s top hitters continued to swing hot bats in Sunday’s finale against the Mission Valley Mariners of Polson, Mont.
The Pioneers outhit the Mariners 10-7 but dropped the game by a score of 10-6. Powell committed a tournament-high six errors
Henderson accounted for three of the Pioneers runs when he cleared the loaded bases with a double to left field in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Heny went 3-for-5 with an RBI double and run scored. Sanders went 1-for-1 with an RBI, run scored, walk and hit-by-pitch. He also stole two bases.
Vogt was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Wright went 2-for-3, Brown was 1-for-4 and Cragoe walked twice.
Brown gave up eight runs (five earned) on five hits, three walks and six strikeouts in a five-inning start.
Henderson threw two innings in his first pitching appearance since June 15. He gave up two runs on two hits, two walks and a strikeout.
Borders said the Pioneers’ tourney play does not worry him.
“It’s not like we got outclassed,” Borders said. “We basically handed a bunch of those games to (our opponents).”
The Pioneers’ success seems to hinge on the ability of their pitchers to hit their spots.
“When our pitchers are throwing strikes we play a little better baseball,” Borders said.
Powell’s next game is a non-league doubleheader against the Glendive Blue Devils Wednesday in Powell. Game one starts at 3 p.m. and game two is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.