After getting back in the win column with a victory over Livingston, the Powell Pioneers baseball team hoped to carry that momentum into a home game Wednesday against Riverton.
Powell got a solid outing on the mound by pitcher Colin Queen, and the game was tied 3-3 after five innings. But Riverton (15-6, 4-1) exploded at the plate following a pitching change, taking the lead in the sixth en route to a 17-5 win over the Pioneers (3-16, 0-4).
“Colin Queen came out, he pounds the zone, and, take away a mental error here or there, and we’re in good shape,” said Powell manager Joe Cates. “Those little things hurt when you’re pounding the zone. I think he only got to a three-ball count one time, and didn’t have a walk. He’s battled his butt off on the mound this season, but something happens behind him, and it just doesn’t go the way you wanted.”
Riverton got out to an early lead, scoring a run in the top of the first. It was a scoreless pitcher’s duel for the next two innings before the Pioneers began making contact in the bottom of the third. A Kobe Ostermiller single got things started for Powell, and with the bases loaded and one out, Jesse Brown singled to center to score Zane Cordes, who reached on a walk. Ostermiller scored on a wild pitch, and Tyler Feller singled in Brown to give the Pioneers the lead at 3-1.
Riverton tied the game with a pair of runs in the fourth, and after a scoreless fifth, took the lead with three runs in the top of the sixth.
Powell answered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth behind a run-scoring single by Reece Hackenberg and head-up base running by Ryley Meyer to score on an error by Riverton’s third baseman to make it 6-5. That was the closest the Pioneers would get, however, as Riverton scored six runs in the seventh, one run in the eighth and four runs in the ninth for the 17-5 win. The Pioneers managed just one hit in their final three at-bats, as Riverton’s Matt Fisher and Dillon Lange combined for six hits and five runs on the mound, two earned. Fisher picked up the win behind 100 pitches over seven innings of work.
The Pioneers finished the game with six hits, led by Hackenberg, who went 2-4 with an RBI. Jesse Brown, Feller, Meyer and Ostermiller recorded a single apiece.
“We watched a lot of first-pitch fastballs that game,” Cates said. “Then we’re watching the curveball down the middle, and now we’re behind in the count 0-2 or 1-2. It’s hard to hit from there from a statistical standpoint.”
Queen was credited with the loss for Powell, allowing six runs on nine hits and striking out three in five innings. Meyer gave up five runs on two hits in relief, walking three, while Feller gave up six runs on six hits, walking five.
Despite the score, Cates said he was pleased with the play of his outfielders against Riverton.
“Reece Hackenberg did pretty good in the outfield,” Cates said. “He did drop the one, a well-hit ball down the left field line. He had a good jump on it, jumped for it and hit the end of his glove. I always preach that if it hits your glove you should catch it, but that was a tough play. He did well in the outfield, had some good reads.”
Cates said there were some positives the team can work with as they head into the second half of the season.
“The most positive thing this game was that our starting pitcher didn’t walk anybody and our outfielders hit their cut-off guys. There were no overthrows except for one, where my cutoff guy was late.”
As for what the team needs to work on, Cates said it starts with intensity.
“We gotta get our intensity back up,” he said. “We gotta keep these kids talking, find a way to keep them in it for nine innings. We gotta keep them mentally prepared for these nine-inning games. I’d also like to see them stay aggressive at the plate, get back to that ‘I can hit anything’ mentality. We get more aggressive, I think things will change at the plate.”
The Riverton contest wound up being the Pioneers’ final game of the week, as a scheduled Saturday doubleheader against the Cody B team was canceled due to inclement weather.
The Pioneers host a doubleheader against the Cody A team tonight (Tuesday) at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.