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July 01, 2014 7:56 am

Pioneers run down, fall to 2nd

Written by Dante Geoffrey

Powell’s Brendon Phister tries to evade the tag during a rundown during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Cody Cubs. The Pioneers lost 7-6 in the final game of the Cody Wood Bat Tournament. Powell’s Brendon Phister tries to evade the tag during a rundown during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Cody Cubs. The Pioneers lost 7-6 in the final game of the Cody Wood Bat Tournament. Tribune photo by Dante Geoffrey

Suffer first-ever conference loss to Lovell mustangs  

The Powell Pioneers are grasping for anything positive after the last week of baseball ended just as it began.

The Pioneers went 3-5 in a five-day span that saw them lose to Cody twice on Wednesday and again Sunday.

The two conference losses Wednesday gave Cody the upper hand in the Northwest Division, while Thursday’s loss to the Lovell Mustangs in game 2 of another conference doubleheader all but dashed Powell’s division title hopes.

“We’re pretty much the 2-seed, I think that’s kind of where we’re looking at it,” said Pioneers manager Jason Borders, who added that seeding won’t have a significant impact on Powell’s state-title chances

Powell (13-18, 3-3 Northwest) would have to sweep the Cubs (20-11, 4-0 Northwest) in Cody July 17, and Lovell would have to take at least one from the Cubs in their July 8 doubleheader for the Pioneers to have a shot at a top seed at the state tournament.

Borders said that would take close to a miracle.

“I don’t see Cody getting beat by Lovell,” Borders said. “But I didn’t see us getting beat by Lovell either.”

Powell’s 6-5 loss was its first conference defeat at the hands of the Mustangs since Lovell has fielded an American Legion team.

“Not a good loss,” Border said. “It had to happen, I guess, at some time.”

The Pioneers led 5-1, but Lovell’s bats came alive in the final two innings to give the Mustangs the upset win.

Lovell got five of its six hits (three doubles), and Powell committed two errors, in the sixth and seven innings.

Powell pitcher Ty Whiteman took the mound in the seventh nursing a one-run lead. He promptly struck out the first Mustang he faced and induced a fly-out to the second to pull the Pioneers within an out of their second win of the day.

But the third Mustang batter walked, and two singles later, Lovell walked off with a win.

Brendon Phister allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits, a walk and a strikeout in five and one-third innings for Powell.

Grady Sanders was the only Pioneer with multiple hits and RBIs (two of each). Cory Heny was 1-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. Zander Andreasen and Phister each were 1-for-4 with a run scored while Andreasen stole two bags to Phister’s one.

Powell fended off Lovell’s upset bid in a 7-4 game 1 win Thursday.

The Pioneers led 7-1 in the sixth when Lovell loaded the bases, with no outs, and scored three runs before consecutive groundouts got Powell out of the inning.

Cragoe hit two triples and drove in two runs in the game.

Zander Andreasen was 2-for-3 with three runs, and Sanders hit an RBI single in the first and drove in another run on a groundout in the third. Jared Wantulok was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

While the Lovell loss was an unexpected letdown, the prior day’s sweep to Cody was the backbreaker.

“The two losses to Cody are the worst,” Borders said. “I just don’t like losing to Cody.”

Powell’s first game against Cody was much closer than its 11-3 final score would indicate.

The game entered extra innings with the score tied at 3-3, but the Cubs promptly poured on eight runs in the top of the eighth to send the Pioneers reeling.

“We gave ourselves a chance,” Borders said. “We had the top of the order in bottom of the seventh. We took them where we had a chance to beat them in the end, and it just didn’t happen in the end.

“Give it to Cody,” said Borders. “They came out in that eighth inning and just hit the ball. Before we knew it we were down a bunch, and it was too late.”

Powell went down in order in the bottom of the eighth and Cody officially took over first place in the Northwest.

Cody committed five errors but Powell’s five hits weren’t enough to make the Cubs pay.

Cragoe was 2-for-3 with a double and Powell’s only RBI of the game.

Phister hit a double and Sanders and Heny each had singles.

Whiteman gave up just five hits and three runs through seven and one third innings but recorded just one more out before being roughed up for six more hits and five more runs in the eighth. He struck out six Cubs on the night.

Game 2 gave the Pioneers a chance to tie things atop the standings but committed as many errors (five) as hits and lost 15-2.

Andreasen was 2-for-3 with a run scored and Phister was 2-for-3 with an RBI. No other Pioneers reached safely more than once.

Powell scored both of its runs in the bottom of the third to bring the score to 7-2. The Pioneers loaded the bases with one out behind an Andreasen single, Cragoe walk and Sanders single.

Sweet drove in a run with a groundout to third base, and Phister followed with an RBI single to right field.

Heny and Sweet split the pitching duties for Powell.

Heny was tagged for nine runs (four earned) on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts in three innings. Sweet gave up six runs (two earned) on five hits, two walks and a punch out.

Powell committed three errors in Cody’s seven-run fourth inning.

Cody Wood Bat Tournament

After going 1-3 against Northwest opponents during the week the Pioneers went 2-2 at the Cody Wood Bat Tournament over the weekend.

Though the tournament was scheduled to start Friday afternoon, action didn’t get underway until Saturday. Thunderstorms doused Cody’s field with more water than it could handle, and an attempt to move the tournament to Powell was similarly thwarted by the weather.

Borders said the Pioneers were ready to play, but the impromptu off day wasn’t completely unwelcome.

“It had been a rough week,” Borders said. “Losing three out of four conference games, it was needed. We came back fresh Saturday — a little better mentally prepared.”

The Pioneers opened at noon Saturday with a 4-2 win over Central (Grand Junction, Colo.,) behind a complete game from Matt Sweet.

Sweet allowed just two hits and five walks, and Powell scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to steal the low-scoring victory.

“He kept them off-balance and they could never get on him,” Borders said.

Heny (2-for-2) led off the sixth with a triple and then stole home on his own volition to spark the comeback.

Powell got the go-ahead run and an insurance run on two more steals of home.

With runners on first and third, Borders called for consecutive delayed steals. Phister took off for second, and when the catcher attempted to throw him out, Cragoe, cheating off third, broke for home.

Brown reached first on an error by the Central third baseman, and Phister advanced to third. Again, Borders called for the delayed steal and was rewarded with the fourth run.

Cragoe drove in Powell’s first run with a sacrifice fly in the first.

The Pioneers got another pitching gem, but with a lot more run support, in Saturday’s second game.

Matt Brown tossed a five-inning one-hitter as the offense scored more runs than they had in their previous five games combined in a 26-0 win over ThunderRidge.

Eleven Pioneers got at least one hit, and 13 drove in runs in the rout.

Bryce Wright was 4-for-5 with an RBI and four runs scored. Wantulok was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Heny was 2-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and three runs scored. Andreasen plated three runs and stole two bases while batting leadoff.

Brown struck out nine Grizzly batters and drove in four runs on two hits at the plate. His no-hit bid was broken up with a single in the fourth inning.

Sunday began with the Pioneers’ fourth loss this season to the Billings Halos, who scored three runs in the fifth inning to win the game 12-2.

Wantulok, in a rare start on the hill, was pummeled for 11 hits and 12 runs in four and one-third innings. Blaze Flores relieved Wantulok in the fifth and gave up a hit and a walk but recorded no outs in the mercy-rule shortened game.

Powell scored a run in the third on Brown’s double and another in the fifth on a passed ball.

Sunday’s tournament finale gave Powell a chance to exact some non-conference revenge on the Cubs, but a couple of untimely errors gave Cody the edge in a 7-6 win.

A second-inning ground ball that should have been the final out of the inning allowed two more Cody runs to score and another in the third inning put Cubs on second and third with one out, which led to another Cody run.

Phister was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs, Heny went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored and Cragoe hit an RBI double in the first to go along with two stolen bases.

Much-needed rest

The Pioneers were scheduled to play an exhibition game against Cody’s B squad Monday night, and to host a doubleheader against Miles City beginning at 5:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday).

That will make 11 games in seven days, with only one (unscheduled) off day for the Pioneers, who get five days off this week.

Borders said his team is looking forward to resting before its July 7 contest home against Glendale (time to be announced).

“It’s mostly mental, I think,” Borders said of his team’s fatigue. “I think our arms are pretty fresh.”

 

Powell Pioneers 2014
MAY
  18      Sheridan   12-5 L / 12-2 L
  31   Billings Angels   10-8 W
JUNE
  3   Lovell   12-0 W / 10-1 W    
  7   Billings Halos   3-0 L / 6-2 L
  10    Miles City   5-4 L / 9-2 L
  11   Glendive   9-7 L
  13   Gillette   14-10 W
  13   Billings Blue Jays   10-0 L
  14   Bozeman   15-1 W
  14   Billings Cardinals       18-1 L
  15   Bozeman   7-6 L
  17   Douglas   11-5 W / 20-8 W
  18   Casper Drillers   13-1 W / 17-16 L
  20   Lovell   7-3 W
  20   Miles City   10-1 L
  21   Casper Drillers   13-3 W
  25   Cody   11-3 L / 15-2 L
  26   Lovell   7-4 W / 6-5 L
  28   Grand Junction   4-2 W
  28   Thunder Ridge   26-0 W
  29   Billings Halos    12-2 L
  29   Cody   7-6 L
  Overall record: 13-17; Conference: 3-3

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