The Pioneers can clinch first place in the Northwest conference with a win in Tuesday’s scheduled doubleheader at Cody.
“It’s nice to go down to Casper and see some of those quality programs out of Colorado,” Pioneers head coach Mike Jameson said of the team’s tournament appearance. “It was nice to have our pitching be able to get through that. We played a lot of games over a four or five day period, whatever it was. That gave us a good chance to see where our pitching staff was at and who we could plug into certain situations.”
Powell opened the tournament with a 12-10 victory over Smoky Hill, Colo. The Pioneers connected for 14 hits in the contest, scoring most of them.
Josh Cragoe came up with an inside-the-park home run.
“Playing on the bigger field down there in Casper, Josh got the chance to showcase a little of his speed,” Jameson said. “Their outfield was playing us a little shallow and he took one to the gap and legged it around the bases.”
Garrett Czapla added a 2-for-4 performance with three RBIs while Colt Nix picked up his eighth win on the hill this summer. Seth Gilmore added a save.
Powell 11, Thomas Jefferson 0
The Pioneers sent 15 batters to the plate in the first inning and scored nine runs to place Denver-based Thomas Jefferson in a big hole early on.
“Any time you can put up a number like that before the other team is able to swing the bat, that’s going to deflate them,” Jameson said of the Pioneers’ early rush.
Cragoe added a masterful pitching performance, needing just 42 pitches to go the distance on the hill. He finished with three hits, two strikeouts and a walk to score the shutout victory.
At the plate, Justin Lynn was a perfect 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs.
“Playing two games that day, it was pretty big to be able to have a quick game and get out of the sun and relax before the late game,” said Jameson.
Powell 12, Casper 10
Taking a chapter from their morning contest against Thomas Jefferson, the Pioneers jumped on Casper for four early runs and appeared to have the game well in hand until some late errors and timely hitting by the Oilers enabled the tournament hosts to catch up.
Powell had four of Casper’s final five batters down to their final strike in the contest before relief pitcher Jake Beuster was able to freeze a batter for a called third strike and end the game with the bases loaded behind him for his first save of the summer.
“We were in pretty good shape, but just ran into some mental lapses late,” said Jameson. “Casper’s a good team. They’re going to keep coming at you. They won’t back down, so you have to play the whole game.”
Gilmore threw the first three-plus innings to get the win, allowing six hits and striking out one.
Offensively, Powell received a 3-for-4 performance from Tyler England that produced a pair of RBIs. Lynn and Czapla were both 1-for-3 with two RBIs in the contest.
Thompson Valley 17, Powell 7
“That’s a very good hitting team,” Jameson said with a shake of his head following the Pioneers’ first loss in Casper. “Sometimes you run into teams that hit you and you just have to tip your hat to them. Everything they hit seemed to go to a gap.”
The Pioneers fell behind early, but pulled to within 11-7 following a triple from Gilmore. The shot was part of a 2-for-3 game that produced five RBIs. Gilmore also homered in the contest.
Thompson Valley responded with six more runs in the bottom of the inning to bring a run-rule end to the contest.
England was 3-for-3, part of a 9-for-16 weekend in Casper that saw him raise his batting average 53 points to a .466.
Frankie Vogt was the pitcher who walked into the Thompson Valley offensive buzzsaw, lasting just one inning. Czapla and Lynn tagged in as relievers in the loss.
Liberty 9, Powell 3
Olie Olson went the distance, but didn’t receive much in the way of run support as the Pioneers suffered back-to-back losses to end their stay in Casper. Olson allowed just six hits and struck out two, but was also hindered by some wildness that saw him produce eight walks and a pair of hit batters.
Despite some of those free passes, Jameson laid the blame for the loss at the feet of his offense.
“We just didn’t take a good approach at the plate in this game,” Jameson said. “The kid they were throwing wasn’t very old. He didn’t throw real hard and he was throwing a lot of off-speed stuff and we didn’t adjust. We were out on our front foot a lot at the plate.”
Cragoe finished 2-for-3 and scored two of the Pioneers’ three runs. Gilmore was 2-for-3 with an RBI in the contest.
Powell 21-15, Riverton 5-5
The Pioneers improved to 8-0 in conference play with a pair of lopsided home victories over Riverton last Wednesday. Powell won the opener 21-5 before taking the nightcap by a 15-5 final count.
“Offensively, we did a nice job of swinging the bats,” Jameson said.
Gilmore was 3-for-3 with a home run and a triple in the early game. Needing just a double to hit for the cycle, Gilmore was hit by a pitch in his final plate appearance of the contest as he raised his batting average to almost .540 with the game.
Olson added a 3-for-4 game and England was 4-for-5.
Lynn picked up the win on the hill, allowing just five runs and six hits while striking out six. After a one-inning outburst from Riverton, Lynn was in full control throughout the proceeding as the Pioneers provided plenty of runs in support.
In the late game, Czapla got the start before handing the ball off to Beuster in a non-save situation. Czapla threw four innings, allowing five runs on four hits. He fanned four and walked just a pair.
England remained hot, going 3-for-4 with five runs scored. Olson was 2-for-5 with four RBIs. Vogt was a perfect 3-for-3 and Beuster was 4-for-5 with four RBIs.
Powell travels to Cody tonight (Tuesday). The team hosts Rawlins on Friday for what originally was scheduled for the final doubleheader of the regular season. That could change, however, as the Pioneers are still trying to negotiate a makeup date for a conference doubleheader against Lovell. District tournament play begins July 21 in Gillette.