After losing nine-run lead, team makes winning run in final at-bat
What started out as smooth sailing turned into a struggle as the Powell Pioneers American Legion baseball team held on for a 10-9 victory over Billings Select in its home opener on Saturday.
The contest was condensed from a pair of seven-inning games into a single nine-inning contest after Billings was able to bring just nine players to Powell.
Early on, it didn't appear like the Pioneers' home opener would go the distance. A solo home-run by catcher Auston Carter and an eight-run third inning gave Powell a 9-0 lead.
“It was nice to see us get out to a big lead,” said Pioneer head coach Mike Jameson. “We're capable of putting together big innings like that.”
The first four batters safely reached base for the Pioneers in the third, including a lead-off double from Dallas Robirds and RBI singles from Grant Geiser and Scotty Jameson. Olie Olsen later added a two-run triple to help Powell's cause and Geiser singled home a run for the second time in the inning as the Pioneers sent 12 batters to the plate in the frame.
After Billings plated a run in the top of the fourth, Powell appeared poised to recover as Jameson led off the frame with a double. Instead, the Pioneers' offense would mysteriously vanish with Jameson unable to advance off second base.
Beginning with the final two outs of the fourth inning, Powell went 13 batters before getting another runner on base.
From the fourth through eighth innings, Powell batters struck out 10 times in the space of 17 batters.
“We can't do that,” Mike Jameson said after the game. “We can't keep giving up double-digit strikeouts and losing our approach at the plate. When we've got a team down the way we had Billings down today, we've got to be able to finish things off.”
Instead, the Pioneers watched as Billings gradually chipped back into the game against Geiser and Olsen, who came on in relief of Geiser in the fifth inning. After getting single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, Billings began to come alive late with two runs in the seventh, two more in the eighth and three in the ninth to tie the score at 9-9.
Pinch hitter Joe Wisniewski led off the bottom of the ninth for Powell by drawing a walk. He advanced to second on a well-placed sacrifice bunt off the bat of Colter Bostick, racing home to score a batter later as Scotty Jameson split the Billings outfield with the game-winning single.
For the game, Powell batters slugged 10 hits, compared to 15 by Billings.
Olsen picked up the win on the mound, pitching 4.1 innings. Geiser opened with 4.2 innings, during which he fanned six and allowed two runs.
“It isn't fair to Grant that he pitched that well and we weren't able to hold our lead to get him the win,” said Mike Jameson. “He gave us everything he had for his first outing. We need to keep working to improve on making plays in the field and keeping our focus at the plate.”
With the victory, Powell improves to 2-1 this season. The team returns to action on Friday with a scheduled doubleheader against Lovell. The team travels to Billings on Saturday for a twinbill against the Blue Jays at Pertz Field.