After utilizing the bulk of its pitching to get through the first game, Miles City forfeited the nightcap of the scheduled doubleheader, leaving Powell with a 34-13 record heading into this week’s district tournament. Powell also swept a lopsided doubleheader from Riverton last Wednesday, winning 13-1 and 23-2. The wins put the finishing touches on another undefeated conference campaign for the Pioneers.
Powell had already wrapped up the top seed out of the Northwest quadrant earlier in the week.
The Pioneers were expecting a dog fight on Saturday for senior night. Only weeks before, Miles City had forced Powell into extra innings in game one of a doubleheader before fighting them tooth and nail in a low scoring nightcap that Powell eventually won.
“They gave us a battle up there,” said Pioneers coach Mike Jameson. “Today, we did a good job of swinging the bat, putting the ball in play, and Jake pitched an outstanding game.”
Early on, Saturday’s game appeared it could be following a script similar to the games in Miles City. Cory Heny and Hayden Cragoe both walked to open the bottom half of the first for Powell. Josh Cragoe followed with a bunt single to load the bases up.
Powell scored its first run on Seth Gilmore’s sacrifice fly to right, which also allowed Hayden Cragoe to advance from second to third on the play. Moments later, Josh Cragoe got caught in a rundown between first and second on a steal attempt. In the mayhem, Hayden Cragoe scampered home as Miles City was content to trade the run for the second out of the inning.
The Pioneers were able to get runners at the corners with two outs in the second inning, but could not add to the scoreboard advantage. Powell chased Miles City’s starter early in the third inning after the team once again drew a lead-off walk.
That decison proved to be the beginning of the end for the visiting Montana team. Seven of the next eight batters for the Pioneers greeted Miles City’s reliever with hits, including back-to-back doubles from Gilmore and Frankie Vogt.
The lone exception was a misplayed ground ball off the bat of Beuster, which allowed the Pioneers’ pitcher to reach on an error and keep the parade of baserunners going. Gilmore would later add a three-run blast over the right-center field fence as Powell sent 13 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs before Miles City managed to mercifully register the third out of the frame.
Another pitching switch by Miles City to begin the fourth inning fared little better. Powell saw its first five batters reach base safely and followed the first out of the frame with another streak of six consecutive batters reaching safely after that. Josh Cragoe’s double was the only extra-base hit of the inning.
While the Pioneers’ offense was rolling up the score, the team’s defense and Beuster’s pitching were taking care of the rest. Beuster finished with four strikeouts in the game as he improved to 9-1 on the summer. The no-hitter in his final regular-season start with the program was supported by a pair of running grabs in the outfield by Josh Cragoe and Justin Lynn. Pioneer second-baseman Hayden Cragoe speared a line drive that appeared destined for a base hit when it left the bat.
Beuster nearly had a perfect game. Only Frankie Vogt’s throw across the infield from third base which sailed high and ticked off the top of Bryce Wright’s glove at first enabled Miles City to have a baserunner in the contest.
Offensively, Gilmore went 3-for-3 with five RBIs in his final regular season game for the Pioneers, raising his average to .545 for the summer. Olie Olson and Wright also finished with three hits in the contest. Olson drove in two runs while Wright finished with three RBIs.
Every Powell starter recorded a hit in the game. In all, the Pioneers hammered out 17 hits in the contest.
Those numbers were just an extension of an offensive explosion in the month of July for the Pioneers. The team’s bats were also on full display in Riverton when the team closed out its conference season last Wednesday.
The Pioneers pounded out 18 hits to help Heny level his season pitching record at 3-3 in a 13-1 rout. Hayden Cragoe, Josh Cragoe and Olson all had three hits in the game as every Pioneer to record an official at-bat delivered at least one hit for the program. Frankie Vogt had three RBIs.
Heny scattered seven Riverton hits and a walk throughout six innings of work on the hill. He allowed just one run and fanned three batters.
In the nightcap, Powell continued to roll. Wright went 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs and also picked up the win on the mound as he moved to 2-1 on the summer with one save. Wright allowed just two hits and two walks in five innings while striking out seven.
Zander Andreasen delivered a team-high four RBIs in the game and also scored three times for the Pioneers. Dillon Nix also went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs as Powell juggled its lineup with little impact to its scoring output in the 23-2 victory.
Gilmore added a perfect 3-for-3 night at the plate while Beuster was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles.
Powell opens North district tournament play this Wednesday in a scheduled 7 p.m. game against the Gillette Rustlers in Powell. The North district tournament runs through Saturday.
Next game — The Powell Pioneers, 34-13 in the regular season, enter Wyoming’s revised postseason when they open North district play against the Gillette Rustlers in a game scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Powell. The game will be the fourth contest of the day at Ed Lynn field, meaning the start time could be pushed back by delays from earlier games.
What’s new? — Unlike previous years, when the top four teams have advanced to state from the North district tournament, this year’s event will only see two teams advance to state in Casper. That change is due to an off-season decision that automatically advances the four Wyoming AA clubs — Gillette, Casper, Cheyenne and Rock Springs — to state, where they will form one half of the eight-team state tournament field. The deviation from previous years was done in response to concerns about the fairness of crowning an A champion in a tournament bracket that also contained AA competition.
That decision also means that Class A teams from Gillette, Casper and Cheyenne are now eligible to compete for the Class A state title, a prize they previously had not been able to contend for.
Also different from years past, this week’s district tournament will not be a true double-elimination format. The district champion will actually be crowned on Friday, when the two remaining unbeaten teams will face off in the championship contest. The victor of that game will be considered district champion and will advance to state as the No. 1 seed from the North and will not have to play on Saturday.
The loser of Friday’s game will fall into an elimination bracket and will have to play again on Saturday in the tournament’s final game to determine the district’s No. 2 seed at state.
Wednesday’s first-round pairings — Cody vs. Douglas, 10 a.m.; Lovell vs. Casper Drillers, 1 p.m.; Riverton vs. Sheridan, 4 p.m.; Powell vs. Gillette Rustlers, 7 p.m.
Losers in Wednesday’s games will play at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday. Winners will face off in the 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. games. If the Pioneers win their opener on Wednesday, they will play in the 7 p.m. game on Thursday against either Lovell or Casper.
Batting average — Seth Gilmore .545, Josh Cragoe .440, Frankie Vogt .435, Jake Beuster .423, Justin Lynn .378, Hayden Cragoe .378, Bryce Wright .337, Olie Olson .333, Gage Henderson .330, Dillon Nix .308, Cory Heny .307, Sho Hei Saito .208, Jared Wantulok .182, Ty Whiteman .130, Zander Andreasen .118.
Runs scored — Heny 57, Vogt 55, H. Cragoe 53, Gilmore 48, Olson 43, Beuster 41, J. Cragoe 39, Henderson 29, Lynn 28, Wright 23, Wantulok 12, Nix 7, Andreasen 7, Whiteman 5, Saito 4.
Hits — Vogt 67, Gilmore 60, H. Cragoe 48, Heny 42, Beuster 41, J. Cragoe 40, Olson 35, Wright 35, Henderson 33, Lynn 28, Wantulok 10, Nix 8, Saito 5, Whiteman 3, Andreasen 2.
Doubles — Vogt 15, Gilmore 13, Beuster 10, Henderson 8, Lynn 6, H. Cragoe 5, J. Cragoe 5, Wright 5, Olson 4, Heny 3, Nix 1.
Triples — Vogt 4, Gilmore 3, J. Cragoe 2, Beuster 2, Lynn 2, Henderson 2, Heny 1, H. Cragoe 1, Olson 1.
Home runs — Vogt 7, Gilmore 7, Heny 3, H. Cragoe 3, Beuster 3.
Walks — Heny 41, Olson 30, Beuster 25, J. Cragoe 23, Lynn 18, Wright 17, H. Cragoe 15, Gilmore 15, Henderson 13, Vogt 12, Andreasen 12, Whiteman 6, Saito 5, Wantulok 4, Nix 4.
Runs batted in — Vogt 74, Gilmore 41, H. Cragoe 39, J. Cragoe 31, Beuster 31, Olson 31, Wright 30, Heny 26, Henderson 25, Lynn 15, Andreasen 8, Whiteman 5, Wantulok 5, Nix 4, Saito 2.
Pitching records — J. Cragoe 3-1, Vogt 0-1, 1 save, Whiteman 6-1, Olson 3-1, Gilmore 2-1, 2 saves, Wright 2-1, 1 save, Henderson 1-0, 1 save, H. Cragoe 4-2, Matt Brown 0-1, Heny 3-3, Beuster 9-1.
Strikeouts — Beuster 59, Whiteman 36, Gilmore 34, H. Cragoe 27, Vogt 22, Olson 20, Wright 17, Heny 17, J. Cragoe 13, Brown 5, Henderson 2.
Innings pitched — Beuster 53, Whiteman 52.1, Heny 35, H. Cragoe 30.2, J. Cragoe 24.2, Gilmore 23.2, Olson 23, Wright 17, Vogt 14, Brown 7.2, Henderson 3.2.