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Pioneers clinch conference crown


Tyler England (left) and Grant Geiser celebrate getting the third out in an inning against the Cody Cubs on Tuesday. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Powell gets top spot following Tuesday win

The Powell Pioneers clinched the Northwest Conference crown on Tuesday night with a 17-14 victory over the Cody Cubs. With three games to play, the Pioneers are now assured of a No. 1 seed once district tournament play begins next week.

That good news seemed the furthest thing from the team's mind on Tuesday night, however. Instead, thoughts turned toward how the Pioneers nearly squandered a double-digit lead, recording the final two outs of the game as Cody had the potential tying run in the batter's box.

“Closer than it needed to be,” said Pioneer pitcher Colter Bostick, who improved to a team-best 7-1 on the mound following Tuesday's victory.

In the early going, it certainly didn't appear as if the game was destined to be close. The Pioneers sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring eight runs and conjuring thoughts of another run-rule victory.

Olie Olson and Colt Nix each drove in a pair of runs in the opening frame as the duo produced two of the four first-inning doubles hit by Powell bats. Grant Geiser added a two-run base hit as the Pioneers broke the contest open early.

Powell tacked on two additional runs in the third inning as Olson singled to open the inning and was immediately doubled home by Dallas Robirds. Robirds scored a short while later on a throwing error by the Cubs.

Cody showed resiliency, however. After being retired in order during each of the first three innings, the Cubs took advantage of an inning-opening error and a walk to plate two runs on a two-out base hit through the left side of the infield.

Cody added four more runs on four hits in the fifth inning, including a two-run blast over the left-center field fence to pull within four, with the score at 10-6.

The Pioneers recovered three of those runs in their half of the inning. Robirds opened Powell's at-bat with his second double of the night. Nix went one better, driving him home with a triple and scoring a batter later on Tyler England's infield grounder. Scotty Jameson would later add his eighth home run of the season.

Jameson narrowly missed sending two more balls out of the yard on Tuesday night. The Pioneer veteran pulled a first-inning offering over the tree down the left field line that was ruled to have hooked foul before leaving the park. He would also send the right fielder racing to the warning track before coming up just short of the fence with a fly ball.

The Pioneers appeared to have more runs in the works in the sixth inning, but a hit and run play with runners on first and second with one out went awry when Nix laced a line drive straight to the Cubs' third baseman, who had little trouble turning a double play to end the inning.

Cody pulled within four runs in the seventh inning, chasing Bostick from the contest. In six and one-third innings, the Pioneers' starter struck out 12 Cody batters and walked four, while allowing five hits.

Powell responded by padding its lead with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Pioneer relief pitcher Jake Beuster helped his cause with an RBI single. Jameson doubled in the inning's other run to stretch Powell back to a 15-9 lead.

The Cubs continued to pressure Powell in the late innings. After plating a run, Cody loaded the bases with one out, forcing Beuster to record back-to-back strikeouts to escape further damage in the eighth.

Following Nix and Jameson RBIs in the bottom of the eighth, Cody chased Beuster from the game by knocking in three one-out runs off Beuster and loading the bases to put the potential tying run in the batter's box.

The Pioneers called upon Nix to close the door. The Powell reliever continued his recent streak of stellar late-inning duty by recording the game's final two outs on an RBI fly ball to center and a strikeout. The save was Nix's third of the season.

Nix also proved to be one of the game's heroes at the plate for Powell, finishing 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Robirds was 4-for-4 at the plate with two doubles. Jameson finished 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs.

In three games against Cody this season, the Pioneers have tallied a total of 65 runs. The two teams were scheduled to close out their regular-season series on Wednesday night in Cody.

Powell's next games will be Sunday afternoon when the team wraps up the regular season with a conference doubleheader against Jackson. The Pioneers will take a 34-12-2 overall record and a 9-0 conference mark into those games, which begin at 1 p.m.

A scheduled Friday home doubleheader against Riverton was canceled at Riverton's request.

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