On the heels of a pair of tough losses to the Billings Blue Jays Saturday, the Powell Pioneers baseball team were swept by the Cody Cubs B squad in a day-night doubleheader on Monday.
The Pioneers continued to hit the ball well in both outings, but struggles on the mound, coupled with costly fielding woes, saw Powell give up leads in both games to lose 5-4 and 9-8, respectively.
“The first game, I thought we played down to their level,” said Powell manager Joe Cates. “We didn’t charge the ball on defense, had some silly mistakes. We ran the bases fairly well, swung the bats OK. Second game, we hit the ball real well, but after that 7-0 lead going into the fifth, we kind of relaxed on it. That hurt us a little bit. But what really killed us was our inability to throw strikes when we needed to.”
Cody 5, Pioneers 4
The Pioneers jumped out to a quick first-inning lead in the opening game, as a lead-off single by Colin Queen and a fielding error on a grounder by Tyler Feller led to the game’s first run. Feller later scored on a sacrifice fly, giving Powell the early 2-0 lead.
Jesse Brown got the start on the hill for the Pioneers. After holding the Cubs scoreless in the first, he gave up a pair of runs in the second to tie the game. Cody added runs in the fourth and fifth innings, while Powell struggled offensively.
However, with Cody sitting on a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Pioneers came alive at the plate. Reece Hackenberg walked to begin the inning and scored on a single to right by Mason Marchant. Marchant advanced to second after teammate Kobe Ostermiller was hit by a pitch, then scored on a single by Queen, tying the game at 4.
Cody scored a run in the seventh to take the lead 5-4, and that would prove to be the final as Powell was unable to get anything going in their final at-bats.
The Pioneers outhit Cody 6-4 for the game, led by a 2-3, 1 RBI performance from Queen. Cameron Schmidt and Hackenberg each went 1-2, while Marchant and Ostermiller had a hit apiece.
On the mound, Brown went four innings, giving up two hits and three runs, two earned. Marchant gave up two hits and two runs, one earned, in relief.
Cody 9, Pioneers 8
The second game of the doubleheader was all Powell for the first five innings, with the Pioneers holding a comfortable 7-0 lead going into the top of the sixth.
A two-run triple by Cameron Schmidt in the bottom of the first gave Powell an early lead; he would later score on a sacrifice fly by Nate Brown. The Pioneers scored two runs in the third and fourth inning, and after a scoreless fifth, appeared poised to coast to a win.
But the Cubs had other plans. Taking advantage of miscues in the field and struggles on the mound, Cody stormed back with a 6-run inning to pull within a run.
“Cameron Wentz came in to pitch in the fourth and fifth and put up zeros,” Cates said. “Then the sixth inning comes around, and he had trouble finding the zone. I think arm fatigue may have been a factor, but all of a sudden, he was just missing.”
Powell would add a run in the bottom of the sixth, with Queen walking to open the inning and moving around on sacrifices by Jesse Brown and Tyler Feller. But Cody carried the momentum they found in the sixth into the seventh, scoring three runs and taking the lead for the first time in the game. Unable to capitalize on their final at-bats, the Pioneers had to settle for a frustrating 9-8 loss, sending Cody home with the sweep.
“We can’t keep giving up free runs,” Cates said. “The first game we gave them four or five unearned runs, the second game, all of a sudden, it’s free bases after free bases — and that’s what popped their big inning.”
The Pioneers were once again able to collect six hits for the game, led by two-hit performances by Queen and Schmidt. Tyler Feller and Ryley Meyer had a hit apiece, with Feller and Schmidt collecting two RBIs each. Nate Brown also had an RBI.
“Queen came through at the plate, I think he had five or six hits on the night,” Cates said. “He had a chance to tie it up in the seventh of the last game, and took a 2-2 pitch and absolutely [crushed] the ball to right field. The fielder was playing way deep and caught it on the warning track. If he would have gotten under that ball at all, it was out.”
Queen got the start for the Pioneers, going three innings and giving up just one hit and striking out two. Cameron Wentz came on in relief, pitching 2.1 innings, giving up two hits and five runs, all earned. Zane Cordes and Hackenberg also saw action on the hill for Powell.
The Pioneers will host the Casper Drillers on Friday, with game time scheduled for 6 p.m. Powell then travels to Lovell on Saturday for a doubleheader against the Mustangs.
“We’ll go over bunt defenses, first and thirds again this week,” Cates said. “We’ll keep swinging the bat; I can’t complain with how we’re swinging it. We’ll do some throwing drills, finding a way to get them focused on hitting the spot over and over.”