The Powell Pioneers picked the right time to catch fire. After a dismal start to the district tournament on Friday, the Pioneers won their final three contests to clinch the championship, capping …
The Powell Pioneers picked the right time to catch fire. After a dismal start to the district tournament on Friday, the Pioneers won their final three contests to clinch the championship, capping things off with a clutch win over Cody.
The turnaround began on Saturday, when the Pioneers earned victories against Riverton (8-7) and Green River (7-6).
In the first game, against Riverton, Colin Queen and Brock Johnson had solid outings on the mound, while the offense continued its recent success. Seven of the nine players in Powell’s starting lineup tallied hits, and the team combined for 12 hits total.
The squad picked up right where it left off in Saturday’s second game, once again exploding on offense. The Pioneers logged 14 hits and sealed the win in the 10th inning on an Ashton Brewer walk-off sacrifice fly.
But of the Pioneers’ three wins in the tournament, Sunday’s win over the hosting Cody Cubs — one of the best teams in the state — was the most memorable.
Brewer started the game on the mound and fell into a hole early. He gave up a two-run home run in the first inning, giving Cody an early 2-0 advantage.
But that didn’t phase him. Brewer’s command sharpened as the game progressed, and he didn’t surrender another run until the sixth inning.
“They’re a really good hitting team, so I was just out there throwing,” Brewer said. “There’s not much else you can do.”
Brewer’s outing slightly deteriorated in the sixth, when he hit two batters with pitches, driving in the go-ahead run.
The bats, however, helped Powell stay in control. Hits from Johnson, Trey Stenerson and Kobe Ostermiller fueled a two-run top of the seventh, which gave the Pioneers a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.
With the lead and the district championship on the line, it was up to Brewer to come through — and he did. Brewer retired three of the final four batters he faced, clinching the 4-3 win over the Pioneers’ cross-county rivals.
After the setback in the sixth inning, Brewer’s mental fortitude allowed him to put it behind him.
“Nothing really gets in his head,” head coach Joe Cates said. “He’s just carefree.”
In total, the Pioneers scored 31 runs over the course of the weekend. Some of the best performances at the plate came from the squad’s youngest bats, including Cade Queen, Stenerson and Johnson, among others.
“They’ve been working their butts off,” Cates said. “My entire team has been working their butts off, working on their swings. Our at-bats have been great.”
The three stellar games came after one of the worst endings of the entire Pioneers season on Friday in Cody. Despite entering the bottom of the seventh up 12-5 against Lovell, Powell gave up eight runs and lost the game 13-12 on a walk-off error.
After such a humiliating ending, Cates’ plan was simple: punishment. This kicked the Pioneers back into shape.
“We went back and ran ‘suicides,’ and then I talked with them about taking care of the little things and staying in a baseball game mentally for the entire game,” Cates said. “We came out, and in the next three games, they were in every pitch, every at-bat. They wanted it.”
The Pioneers’ strong ending to the weekend proved they can hang with anybody when they fire on all cylinders. After back-to-back weekends away from home, the Pioneers return to host the state tournament at Ed Lynn Memorial Field from Saturday, Aug. 1 through Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Now, it’s just a matter of executing at the most important time.
“Get the guys the rest they need, get their bodies ready to go,” Cates said. “I think we’re ready to go. I think they know they can handle anything that’s thrown at them.”
Game 1 vs. Lovell
Powell 1 0 0 2 2 4 3 R12 H16 E6
Lovell 3 0 0 0 2 0 8 R13 H9 E1
Game 2 vs. Riverton
Riverton 0 0 1 0 2 2 2 R7 H8 E1
Powell 3 2 0 0 0 3 X R8 H12 E2
Game 3 vs. Green River
GR 1 0 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 R6 H12 E1
Powell 1 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 1 R7 H14 E3
Game 4 vs. Cody
Powell 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 R4 H9 E1
Cody 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 R3 H5 E3