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Reversal of misfortune; Pioneers are no-hit, lose 2 against Billings

Pioneers pitcher Ty Whiteman throws against the Sheridan Troopers on May 18. Whiteman was a bright spot for the Pioneers during a 3-0 loss in which Powell didn’t get a hit. Whiteman allowed one run in five innings on five hits, no walks and four strikeouts. Pioneers pitcher Ty Whiteman throws against the Sheridan Troopers on May 18. Whiteman was a bright spot for the Pioneers during a 3-0 loss in which Powell didn’t get a hit. Whiteman allowed one run in five innings on five hits, no walks and four strikeouts. Tribune photo by Dante Geoffrey

For the second time in a week the Powell Pioneers were involved in a no-hitter, though Saturday found the home team on the wrong end of a punchless offensive performance.

Cole Torgensen of the Billings Halos threw seven innings of no-hit ball, including 12 strikeouts and no walks in a 3-0 game 1 win, and the Pioneers had only three hits (two singles and a double) in a 6-2 loss in game 2.

Pioneers manager Jason Borders said his team didn’t have a proper approach as they looked overmatched at the plate.

“I don’t ever remember having a day like we had,” Borders said. “It might be a fluke. It might just be one of those days. But we need to improve offensively.”

Borders said the Pioneers (3-4, 2-0 Northwest) were going to work on their offense during Monday’s and Tuesday’s practices.

“That’s going to be our focus when we get back to practice — hitting,” Borders said.

Borders said he would try to schedule a time for an ex-Legion player to pitch to his hitters so they will be ready and have a plan of attack the next time they see an elite arm.

Powell’s arms have been doing their part, though, Borders said.

“If our pitching keeps doing what it’s been doing ... we can win 80 percent of our games,” he said. “Or we should.”

Borders said holding teams to less than six runs should be enough in Wyoming’s high-scoring American Legion league, but only if the Powell bats carry their weight.

“We just didn’t have it at the plate,” Borders said. “We just can’t compete relying on the three big guys — Cory (Heny), Grady (Sanders) and Bryce (Wright) — to carry us.”

Torgensen took advantage of passive Pioneers hitters and often led early in the count.

“We just weren’t being aggressive,” Borders said. “He was trying to jump ahead with first-pitch strikes and we were looking at it.

“Once the pitcher’s ahead the ball’s in his court. He dictates,” Borders said. “We were hitting behind in the count every time. From a coach’s standpoint it’s frustrating.”

The Pioneers’ only baserunner came on a Billings error. Borders said the Pioneers didn’t play with energy.

“It was kind of a flat day all around,” he said. “It (didn’t) seem like we came out with a lot of emotion.”

The coach was baffled when pressed to identify a reason for his team’s sluggish start for a 1 p.m. home game.

“(They) slept in (their) own bed,” Borders said. “I couldn’t figure out why we were so flat.”

Powell’s collective swing-and-miss came four days after Heny threw a five-inning perfect game against the Lovell Mustangs.

Torgensen threw a perfect game in his previous start against Rawlins May 26.

“The kid’s good,” Borders said. “For us to see guys like that right now is just going to make us better later.”

Torgensen’s performance overshadowed a solid outing from Powell starter Ty Whiteman, who gave up only one earned run with five hits and four strikeouts in five innings, and Bryce Wright, who pitched two perfect innings with three strike outs to finish the game.

“It was just a nice little combination with the right-hander and then bringing the left-hander in,” Borders said.

For Whiteman it was his second start of the season after a year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and his first game since being pulled from the outfield Tuesday after a throw to third base hurt his arm.

Borders said the injury was a non-factor and that Whiteman performed well.

“Everything he threw worked,” Borders said. “(He) kept them off balance for the most part.”

Whiteman was pulled after 68 pitches as a precaution.

“I need him in July,” Borders said. “Not now.”

Wright’s two clean innings were a nice bounce back after being tagged for six runs (five earned) in a two-inning start versus the Billings Angels May 31.

Heny pitched on three days rest to start game 2 of the doubleheader. He couldn’t replicate the form from his 11-strikeout perfect game but Heny (six runs, five earned, 10 hits, two walks, four strikeouts and two home runs on 119 pitches) kept Powell within striking distance during the 6-2 loss.

Heny stole Powell’s only base and scored both Pioneer runs.

Sanders and Wright each hit RBI singles and catcher Jared Wantulok hit a double for Powell’s only three hits of the day.

Powell was without starter Hayden Cragoe, who played in the Shrine Bowl Saturday.

Powell travels to Miles City Tuesday and will take on Glendive Wednesday. The team comes home Thursday for a quick day of rest before heading to Billings for a three-day tourney Friday-Sunday.

The Pioneers next play at home June 20 when they host their three-day tournament that ends June 22.

“We’ve got a lot of games the next two weeks,” Borders said. “We’ll learn a lot about ourselves in the next couple weeks.”

The Pioneers were scheduled and on their way to play the Sheridan Troopers Friday but were told weather canceled the games as they came down the east side of the Big Horn Mountains.

Saturday’s games against the Halos were originally scheduled to be played in Billings but heavy rains flooded the Halos’ fields.

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