The road loss drops Powell to a 3-1 record in league play. If the Cubs beat Lovell Friday, they too will have a 3-1 record and the Northwest Division winner will be decided by a coin flip.
Borders said he was frustrated by the loss, Powell’s sixth in a row and eighth in the past 10 games. But he knows the season’s not over and the Pioneers still have the talent to make a run.
“I still believe in these guys,” he said. “I still feel like we’re one of the better teams in the state when we play good.”
Tuesday was not an example of Powell bringing its A game. Yet, in a game the Pioneers probably had no business winning, they came within one epic swing of the bat of tying things up in the bottom of the ninth, down 11-7.
The Pioneers had already scored two runs in the inning and needed four more to send the game into extra frames.
With two down, Ben Wetzel was hit by a pitch to reach first and move Matt Sweet to second and Brendon Phister to third.
Zander Andreasen, whose 15 hits are comprised of 14 singles and just one double, wasn’t able to be a late-game hero and struck out swinging.
Powell’s problems began in the game’s early innings though.
Frankie Vogt took the mound for the Pioneers, a move that gave everyone, including Borders, confidence in Powell going into the game.
“With Frankie on the mound I just felt he gave us a good chance going into it,” Borders said. “Then he just had one of his bad days.”
Borders said Vogt’s poor performance isn’t a sign of injury or wearing down.
“I’m going to write that off as just some days you have it and some days you don’t,” he said.
Vogt would struggle early, especially with location. He walked four, hit another four, and threw five wild pitches in four-and-one-third innings of work. He struck out only three.
After pitching a 1-2-3 first inning, Vogt unraveled and received little help from his defense in Cody’s game-changing second inning. He hit the first two batters of the inning, and then gave up a single that scored Cody’s first run of the game.
That was on Vogt. Much of the rest was not.
A foul pop-up that was caught by catcher Jared Wantulok allowed Cody runners to advance to second and third. The next batter walked to load the bases.
A wild pitch scored another Cody run before Vogt could register his first strikeout of the game and second out of the inning.
With runners on second and third but needing only one more out to minimize the damage, Powell’s defense failed to get Vogt off the mound.
Errors on consecutive plays by third baseman Grady Sanders and shortstop Hayden Cragoe put the Cubs up 4-0 with runners on first and second.
A Shad Moir single drove in a run and moved Cameron Wright to second, where he stayed only until an error on Powell center fielder Cory Heny let him advance to third.
Wright wasn’t done at third. Two pitches later he stole home on a called double steal for Cody’s sixth and final run of the inning. Vogt would get Cap McClure to strike out swinging on the next pitch.
The Pioneers began to chip away at their state-threatening deficit by scoring twice in the top of the third.
The first two Powell batters reached base without the aid of a hit. Andreasen was hit by a 3-2 pitch and Heny walked to set the scene for two of Powell’s better power hitters.
Andreasen stole third base and then scored on Cragoe’s ground out to first base. Vogt followed with a ground out to short that moved Heny to third.
Heny then scored on Wright’s error during Gage Henderson’s steal of second base.
Powell got another run in the top of the fourth when Cory Heny’s double drove in Andreasen, who reached base by absorbing another pitch from Cody starter John Beaudrie.
But Powell’s comeback would take a major hit in the next few innings.
For the third straight inning, Vogt allowed the first batter he faced to reach base, this time by hitting him. The next batter reached on a bunt single. WIth runners at first and second and no outs, Phister caught a deep foul ball to right, only to have both Cody runners tag up and advance.
The extra bases proved costly as both runner’s scored, Kevin Page on a Vogt wild pitch and Cameron Myers on Moir’s single.
Powell didn’t have an answer in the fifth but Cody gave the Pioneers more to respond to.
Vogt again hit the first batter of the inning, then walked the second. A fielder’s choice got Vogt his first out of the inning but two more wild pitches scored one run and set up and scored Wright’s sacrifice fly.
Cody added its 11th and final run in the bottom of the sixth with Powell reliever Cragoe pitching. McClure led off with a single and scored when Beaudrie’s ground ball was fielded by Vogt and airmailed over Bryce Wright at first base.
Wantulok left home to cover first and Cragoe stayed in the center of the diamond, leaving home plate unguarded and allowing for McClure to trot in for a score.
Cragoe then struck out three Cody batters in a row, all swinging. He gave up only one earned run on one hit and one walk with five strikeouts in three-and-two-thirds innings.
“He probably threw one of his better games all year,” Borders said.
Heny and Cragoe led the Pioneers in hits with two apiece. Each hit a double and a single and drove in one run. Heny also walked once and scored three times.
Phister’s lone hit was a ninth-inning double that drove in Powell’s final two runs. He walked once and struck out twice. Henderson had a double, two walks and a run scored.
Wetzel got his seventh RBI of the season, and first in league play, when, with the bases loaded, he took a pitch that was a little too inside.
Powell’s first five batters recorded all six Pioneer hits, and four of seven walks. Powell’s six through nine hitters went a combined 0-14 with eight strikeouts.
“Those guys down at the bottom of the order have to start doing something for us,” Borders said.
Cody starter Beaudrie had the kind of start the Pioneers were expecting from Vogt. The 15-year-old threw eight innings, gave up six runs (four earned) on five hits, five walks and 11 strikeouts.
Powell played a doubleheader against the Riverton Raiders Wednesday (check www.powelltribune.com for story) and plays a doubleheader Friday against Miles City, Mont. First pitch for game one against the Outlaws is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.