Strong pitching the difference
Jake Buester fired a complete-game three-hitter and three Powell Pioneers combined to strike out 22 batters over the weekend as the team swept a conference doubleheader from Cody 8-1 and 13-8 on Tuesday night.
“Our pitchers did a good job tonight,” said Powell head coach Mike Jameson. “Jake threw really well in the first game and it was nice to have Josh (Cragoe) back to be able to work him in the second game.”
Beuster gave up hits to two of the first three Cody batters he faced to fall behind 1-0 early. Powell recovered the run as Justin Lynn’s baserunning turned a walk into a second-inning run despite the Pioneers never getting the ball out of the infield during the frame.
Powell broke the game open in the third inning, sending 10 batters to the plate. Frankie Vogt ripped a two-run triple to give the Pioneers their first lead. Beuster followed with an RBI single and later scored along with Olie Olson as Powell plated five runs in the bottom half of the third.
The 6-1 Pioneer lead remained on the scoreboard until the sixth inning. Hayden Cragoe led off that inning by getting hit by a pitch, although the Pioneers’ catcher seemed not to realize the ball had grazed his uniform. Beuster delivered a two-out double to score Cragoe, then trotted home moments later as Olson followed with another double.
That proved to be more than enough offense for Beuster. After surrendering the early run to the Cubs, the Pioneers’ ace saw just three additional Cody batters reach base in the game’s final six innings. Beuster struck out the side in the second innng and finished with 10 K’s for the game as he improved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.08 on the mound this summer for Powell.
The nightcap contest again saw Cody jump to a 1-0 lead in its first at-bat, but Powell immediately answered, sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
Vogt and Beuster provided back-to-back doubles to lift the Pioneers to a 3-1 lead. Powell added a fourth run after Cody dropped a third-strike pitch to Bryce Wright, who beat the throw down to first base to extend the inning.
The extended inning almost proved particularly damaging for the Cubs. Powell proceeded to load the bases, adding one run after Wright escaped from the would-be third out. Powell appeared ready to add to its total, but leadoff batter Cory Heny was called out on strikes despite appearing to need to step out of the way on a decisive full-count pitch that could have walked home another run and extended the inning.
Powell took advantage of three walks and a Cody error in the second inning to increase its lead to 7-1. Those runs proved important as the Cubs got to Josh Cragoe for four runs in the third inning.
Powell recovered two of the runs in the bottom of the third as Vogt delivered a sacrifice fly to drive in one run and the Pioneers took advantage of a passed ball to plate the other for a 9-5 lead.
Gage Henderson singled home Bryce Wright, who had reached base with a one-out double to extend Powell’s lead to 10-5 in the fourth. Once again, the Pioneers appeared in a position to break the game open as they went on to load the bases with one out but failed to capitalize as Heny was called out for interfering on a play as he ran from first to second on a ground ball, resulting in an out and sending the other runners back to second and third base. Josh Cragoe’s fly ball to center was caught on a sprint by the Cubs to end the inning.
Powell again loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but again came away with just one run.
Powell answered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Hayden Cragoe led off the inning with a walk and was doubled in by Vogt, who narrowly missed a home run, driving the ball off the top of the fence in left-center field. Vogt advanced to third on a wild pitch, scoring moments later on Beuster’s sac fly to center field.
Vogt went on to strike out four Cody batters — one of the fanned Cubs reached first via a dropped third strike — to wrap up the save.
The Pioneers are now 13-10 for the season. The team is 4-0 in Northwest quadrant play.
“Frankie and Jake just continue to tear the cover off the ball at the plate for us,” said Jameson after the tandem accounted for nine of Powell’s 16 hits in the doubleheader. “Hopefully we can keep them hot and get some of our other guys producing like they’re capable. We’re starting to come around.”
Gage Henderson added a 2-for-3 performance in the nightcap for Powell, which benefitted from 13 walks in the late game.
Powell returns to action on Thursday with a conference doubleheader against Riverton. First pitch for those games is scheduled for 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Powell also hosts its own tournament, the Heavy Metal Classic, this weekend as Cody, Lovell, Sheridan, Williston, N.D., and the Billings Halos come to town for three days of baseball action beginning on Friday.