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June 02, 2011 7:37 am

Pioneers fall twice in Billings

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Rain washes out two more games

The Powell Pioneers American Legion baseball team was able to take the field for two games on Saturday. Head coach Mike Jameson may have wished the rain that washed out the team’s other two Memorial Day weekend games would have arrived sooner.

The Pioneers dropped a 3-2 contest to Lewistown, Mont., in a game where Powell managed just one hit, but still found itself in a position to win heading into the final inning. The team then dropped a night game to the Casper Drillers by a 12-4 margin.

Combined, the results made for a long and frustrating weekend.

“Any time you only get one hit, it’s going to be a frustrating game,” Jameson said of the Pioneers’ game with Lewistown. “We did a good job of fighting to get a second run and then had some defensive letdowns and stuff.”

Powell struck first in the game, using leadoff walks from Colt Nix and Tyler England to state the first inning. Olie Olson advanced the pair with a well-executed sacrifice bunt and Seth Gilmore followed by lifting a sac fly into left field for a textbook small-ball RBI.

Pioneer starter Jake Beuster made the resulting one-run margin hold up until the fifth inning, when a lead-off double led to an eventual Lewistown run after a wild pitch. In the meanwhile, Powell stranded four baserunners while searching for its first hit.

Beuster wound up breaking through the ice with a two-out single in the top of the sixth, only to be left there after a fly ball to right ended that inning. The Pioneers finally cracked the scoreboard again as Justin Lynn reached first on a one-out error in the seventh.

After a Nix strikeout, England drew another walk. Olson followed with a ground ball that was misplayed by Lewistown’s second baseman. With the runners moving on contact, Lynn rounded the bag at third and kept charging home, sliding in ahead of the throw for the go-ahead run.

Unfortunately, the lead wouldn’t hold. Glimore came on to relieve Beuster and saw the first batter he faced reach  first on an error. That runner moved to second after a sacrifice in which nobody covered the bag at second for the Pioneers.

The Montana club followed with an RBI double to tie the game. The next batter singled, allowing the winning run to score ahead of the throw from the outfield.

As hard as that game may have been to swallow, the Pioneers’ evening game against the Drillers may have been a more bitter pill. Powell fell behind by a 9-0 count and never threatened against the Casper squad.

“We didn’t come out to play,” said Jameson. “We weren’t mentally prepared from the beginning. Like we’ve been telling these kids, they’ve got that bulls-eye on them. Everyone from the state wants to stick it to us. We need to either step up every time we take the field or we’ll keep getting taken care of.”

Jameson did credit the team with taking a better approach at the plate as the game went along.

“We hit some balls hard in the Casper game,” Jameson said. “I think our approach at the plate was better, we just didn’t find the gaps and the ball didn’t find its way to the ground in the outfield.”

Nix started on the mound for Powell, but was pulled at the conclusion of the first inning after being clipped by a pair of batted balls in the frame. Casper scored four runs in the first, added two more in the second and struck for three in the third for a 9-0 lead.

The Pioneers got into the scoring column in the fourth, producing four singles in the frame. Garrett Czapla’s two-out, bases loaded single provided the Pioneers’ first two runs. Czapla’s shot chased in Gilmore and Beuster. Lynn also produced a base hit in the inning, but was stranded at third after the third out was recorded.

The momentum from Powell’s most productive frame of the day was shortlived though. Casper recovered the runs in the bottom of the inning.

Powell added two more runs in the fifth. Olson tripled and came home on Gilmore’s blast over the right field fence to make the score 11-4. Casper scored one more run to bring the tournament’s eight-run mercy rule into play.

The losses dropped the Pioneers to a 2-4 overall record. The team was in action last night (Wednesday) for a conference doubleheader in Lovell. The Pioneers also travel to Riverton this weekend to participate in another tournament.

Powell will face Riverton and Rawlins on Friday. The team plays the Billings Halos and Green River on Saturday. The Pioneers play Jackson on Sunday.

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