Early on, it appeared the Pioneers would continue their hot play. After allowing just two runs in 31 innings at the Roy Peck Memorial wood bat tournament in Riverton and Lander, Powell watched as starting pitcher Colt Nix carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning in Tuesday’s opener.
During that early span, Powell grabbed a 3-1 lead. Sheridan actually broke onto the scoreboard first, taking advantage of a lead-off walk and a pair of Powell errors to score in the top of the fourth.
Powell answered in the bottom half of the frame as the Troopers returned the favor by allowing the first two Pioneer batters to reach base safely on errors. Jake Beuster’s RBI groundball put Powell in front by a run. Hayden Cragoe added an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth.
That’s where both Nix’s no-hit bid and the Pioneers’ hopes for victory hit a wall. Sheridan opened the sixth by lacing a ball through the left side of Powell’s infield. The next two batters followed with base hits. After another Powell error — one of five committed by the team in the contest — Nix was chased from the hill by yet another base hit.
Things only got worse from there. Relief pitcher Justin Lynn was greeted by back-to-back-to-back doubles before issuing a free pass to make it nine consecutive Sheridan batters to reach base safely. In all, the Troopers scored seven runs in the inning.
“They get a couple soft hits, we commit an error and it’s amazing how things kind of snowballed from there,” said Jameson.
Powell managed just one base runner in the final two innings as the team was unable to mount a rally. Sheridan tacked on one more run on Josh Loseke’s solo blast over the 375 sign in center field in the seventh inning to give the game its final margin.
Despite throwing near-perfect baseball for five innings, Nix was saddled with the loss as he surrendered just four hits and a walk over five innings. Nix fanned three Sheridan batters.
Game two mirrored the low-scoring start to game one. Sheridan scored a run in the first inning as the Troopers produced a one-out double, followed by an RBI single.
From there, Powell starting pitcher Seth Gilmore settled into a groove. The first-year Pioneer retired 10 of the next 12 batters, never allowing a runner beyond first base until the sixth inning.
In the meantime, Powell regained the lead with a pair of unearned runs. Powell took advantage of a wayward throw to first base to tie the score at 1-1 in the third inning. In their next at-bat, Powell again capitalized on a Trooper miscue and some aggressive baserunning by Beuster.
The Pioneers were also displaying some solid glove work in the field. Nowhere was that more evident than in the top of the fourth inning when Gilmore speared a laser beam line drive smoked back to the pitcher’s mound. The next batter sent a fly ball to short right-center that appeared destined to drop until Nate Fulton’s diving slide corralled the ball for an out. Olie Olson scaled a ladder at shortstop to make a leaping grab of another line drive to record the third out of the inning.
The Troopers weren’t deterred however. In the sixth inning, Sheridan’s ability to make solid contact paid dividends. A two-out double off the right-field fence was followed by Loseke’s second blast of the day, a shot over the fence in left-center for a 3-2 lead.
Powell countered in the bottom half of the inning. Frankie Vogt pulled a two-run bomb down the left field line for his second homer in three games to reclaim a one-run lead for the Pioneers. Justin Lynn followed with a one-out triple, but was stranded there as the Pioneers were unable to advance him the final 90 feet to score.
The Troopers were down to their final out, but leadoff hitter Devin Stites delivered an RBI triple to tie the game. Sheridan’s Pat Wicks followed with a single to chase Stites home for the winning run. Lucas Giesey worked a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning to pick up a save for the Troopers.
For the game, Gilmore allowed eight hits and two walks. Six of the eight hits charged against Gilmore came in the final two innings. He also fanned seven Sheridan batters.
The losses drop Powell to a 9-6 record this summer. Four of those six losses have come against the Troopers. Powell begins play today (Thursday) in Aaron’s Tournament in Billings. The team will play one game daily through Sunday.
Powell opens against Great Falls. The team will face Helena on Friday and the Billings’ Cardinals on Saturday. Sunday’s opponent will be determined based on the results of pool play in the tournament.
Powell’s next home games will be Monday when the Pioneers host Douglas. First pitch in the opening game is scheduled for 5 p.m.