The Pioneers (16-25, 3-5 Northwest) lost their previous eight games — five at the Northwest Woodbat Tournament in Montana, two in Cody Thursday evening and one against the Outlaws Friday night.
Powell manager Jason Borders said he was glad the regular season was over so his team could start the postseason with a clean slate.
“We’ll use the regular season as a learning experience and move on,” Borders said. “If we dwell on all the bad things that happened this season we’re not going to go anywhere.”
The North District Tournament begins Thursday in Cody. The Pioneers will begin their bid for a state tournament berth at 4 p.m. against Casper. Read Thursday’s Tribune for the district tournament preview.
While Borders is eager to move on from what has been a rough regular season, he was proud of the way his team played its final home game.
“That was a big win for us,” he said.
And it was proof to the manager that his team has plenty of good baseball left in it.
“If they focus and come to play like they did (Saturday) night we’re going to be tough to beat in the tournament,” Borders said. “They knew it was their last time to play on the field. The intensity was a little better. The focus was a little better.”
Grady Sanders gave up six hits and struck out six in six innings of work. The righty made one bad pitch in the top of the first that was hit out of the park for a two-run home run, the Outlaws’ only runs of the game. Sanders also walked four in the win.
Zander Andreasen drove in a run and scored another on a 3-for-3 night in which he was also hit by a pitch. The Pioneers’ leadoff man finished the regular season with a team-high .561 on-base percentage.
Brendon Phister was 2-for-2 with a triple and a run scored and Hayden Cragoe was 1-for-3 with three RBIs.
The Pioneers were in position to beat Miles City in game 1 of their two-game series Friday night but the Outlaws scored two in the top of the seventh to eek out a 6-5 win.
Powell led 4-1 after five innings before the Outlaws began their comeback.
Miles City scored three runs in the top of the sixth on a double, two singles, two walks, a Pioneers’ error and a passed ball.
Powell led off the bottom of the seventh with a single by Phister, who stole second during the next at bat (a Sanders strikeout) and third with Jared Wantulok at the plate. Wantulok grounded to second and Phister, who would have been the tying run, was tagged out at home.
Carson Asher struck out looking to end the game.
Phister was 3-for-3 with an RBI.
Cory Heny went the full seven innings in the loss. He was credited for just one earned run on seven hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
Heny was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI and Bryce Wright was 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored.
Wright went 5-for-12 with three RBIs and a four runs scored in Powell’s final four games. The left-handed first baseman showed no signs of rust in the batter’s box as he returned from a knee injury Thursday.
“He’s just a good hitter,” Borders said. “He’s always been that way since he was 16. You can always count on him putting the ball in play. He doesn’t strike out and he usually has good composure at the plate.”
Borders said Wright could also be a valuable asset to the Pioneers’ pitching staff.
“(Bryce) will throw some bullpens this week,” Borders said. “We’ll see how he does pushing off with his knee.”
The Outlaws’ comeback was another in a long string of frustrating wins, but paled in comparison to the previous night’s meltdown against the Cody Cubs.
Powell was poised to steal one from the Cubs, but not even a 10-1 lead in the fifth inning was enough for the Pioneers, who lost 17-11 in game 2 of the doubleheader.
“We thought we had the win and ... I don’t think we were as focused at that point,” Borders said.
Powell got just four hits but took 18 walks on its way to 11 runs.
“I think we got lulled to sleep a little bit,” Borders said. “They walked 18 guys and we had a big lead.
“When they started making their comeback we tightened up and didn’t play loose. We couldn’t handle the pressure.”
Cody’s comeback was aided by nine Pioneer errors.
Starter Matt Brown had given up just three hits and two walks in four innings but was pulled after Cody got another three hits and two walks with no outs in the fifth.
Asher came in and was tagged for 11 runs, only one of which was earned while pitching in front of a defense that committed seven errors in the final two innings.
Only four of Cody’s 17 runs were earned.
Powell’s seven-run second was sparked by four straight walks, a hit by pitch, and then another five walks.
Powell didn’t get its first hit until Asher’s RBI single in the third made the score 10-1.
Asher was 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored. Cragoe was 1-for-3 with three walks and three runs. Sanders was 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored. Phister walked three times and scored twice.
The Pioneers got plenty of hits (10) against the Cubs in game 1 but still lost 9-6.
Powell is 0-5 against Cody this season.
Cody’s John Beaudrie struck out nine Pioneers and walked four in the win.
“We had him,” Borders said. “(We) played really well against him. Had him on the ropes ... a couple errors here and there, we end up losing.
“Hopefully the kids feel like they can beat him, or beat a quality pitcher like that.”
Powell’s Ty Whiteman went six innings, gave up seven hits, walked three and struck out three while taking the loss. Five of Cody’s nine runs were credited to Whiteman.
Wright was 3-for-4 with a run. Heny was 2-for-4 with a triple, three RBIs and a two runs. Cragoe was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.