End of the line

Posted 8/13/09

“These kids have nothing to hang their heads about,” said coach Mike Jameson. “We made it further than anyone thought we would. They've got nothing to be ashamed about.”

The Pioneers just missed making it all the way to …

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End of the line


{gallery}08_13_09/pioneers{/gallery}Pioneers Gianluca Giarrizzo, Colt Nix and Grant Geiser stare out from the dugout of Gates Field in Kearns, Utah. Powell placed third overall at the Northwest region Legion baseball tournament after going 3-2 in five games there. Both of the Pioneers' losses came at the hands of regional champion Kennewick, Wash. Tribune photos by Randal HorobikOne-run loss to Kennewick leaves Pioneers third A magical tournament run ran out of magic a little too soon on Tuesday as the Powell Pioneers fell 6-5 to Kennewick, Wash. to finish the 2009 Northwest region Legion baseball tournament in third place. The loss was Powell's second of the tournament to the Washington state champs while in Salt Lake City and ended the Pioneers' summer with a 48-17 overall record.

“These kids have nothing to hang their heads about,” said coach Mike Jameson. “We made it further than anyone thought we would. They've got nothing to be ashamed about.”

The Pioneers just missed making it all the way to the tournament's end. After being held to just one hit through the first seven innings, Powell's bats woke up in a big way in the eighth inning.

Grant Geiser smacked a bases-loaded double to deep left-center to trim a 6-0 Kennewick lead in half. Tyler Dahlgren followed with a two-out RBI single to score Geiser and make the game 6-4 entering the ninth.

Auston Carter walked to open the ninth inning for Powell and moved to second on Josh Cragoe's single through the left side of the infield. Gianluca Giarrizzo — a game-time scratch from the Pioneers starting lineup due to an injury sustained the day before on a diving catch in center field — entered to deliver a pinch shot to second that resulted in Powell's fifth run after the throw to try and double him up at first sailed high for an error.

Giarrizzo moved within 90 feet of home plate on Dallas Robirds' grounder to second and Kennewick safely pitched around Geiser, who stole second, to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position for Tyler England. The first-year Pioneer, elevated into Giarrizzo's normal slot in the batting order due to the gametime lineup juggle, struck out to end the game.

“Obviously, the eighth inning is too late to start scoring runs,” said Jameson. “Their starter was doing a nice job of mixing up his speeds and keeping us guessing, but he's not somebody we should have had that much trouble against. We just can't wait until the eighth inning to start hitting.”

Part of his team's early difficulty, Jameson acknowledged, may have had to do with the late scratch of Giarrizzo.

“Any time you lose a player of his ability, that's going to have an impact on you,” Jameson said. “We were expecting him to play. It wasn't until a few minutes before the game that we made the change (to the starting lineup).”

The Pioneers trailed almost from the outset. Kennewick scored one run in the first inning without the benefit of a hit after drawing a walk and stealing second and third base off Powell starter Dahlgren to get the baserunner in scoring position.

Dahlgren danced out of further danger in the first frame by pitching his way out of a bases-loaded jam, but couldn't repeat the feat in the third frame. Kennewick plated five runs on just two hits as an error and walked batters came around to haunt the Pioneers.

Cragoe came on in relief in the fourth inning after Kennewick again loaded the bases, and immediately made an impact by getting Powell out of the jam without allowing a run. In all, Cragoe pitched six innings of scoreless ball to keep Powell in contention while waiting for the offense to break out of its early-inning funk. Cragoe also turned in some nifty glove work with a diving catch of a late-inning bunt attempt before firing the ball to first to register a double play.

“That's just Josh being Josh,” Jameson said of the performance. “He's a competitor and he wanted the baseball.

He did everything he could to help us try and win today.”

The Pioneers could also have turned to staff ace Scotty Jameson, but opted to leave the Arkansas St. signee on the shelf for use in the championship game.

“I felt like we could go with Tyler and get by,” said Mike Jameson. “We were running up against the innings limit with a few of our kids. We thought this was the way to go and Josh did a good job of stepping in and giving us some quality innings.”

Powell reached the final three with a gritty 11-5 victory over previously undefeated Laurel, Mont., on Monday.

Dahlgren and Colter Bostick combined to drive home five runs in the final three innings as the Pioneers pulled away from a 5-5 midgame deadlock.

Bostick also picked up the victory on the mound after tossing seven solid innings in which he fanned seven Laurel batters. Scotty Jameson threw the final two innings to record his first save of the year after recording four of his six outs via strikeout.

Powell, which was seeing Laurel for the first time all summer despite the two communities' proximity to each other, narrowly missed blowing the game open. Already up 4-1, the Pioneers chased the Dodgers' starter in the second inning with the bases loaded. The team was unable to score additional runs in the frame and Laurel eventually battled back to knot the contest.

Despite the result, Laurel advanced to Tuesday's championship game by virtue of being the last undefeated team in the eight-team tournament field. The Montana team would drop a 7-6 decision to Kennewick in the tournament's championship game.

The third-place finish marked Powell's most successful foray into a regional Legion tournament. The team finishes the year 48-17 overall.

Two players — Giarrizzo and Dahlgren — saw their final action in a Pioneer uniform. The remaining players on the 2009 roster are all eligible to suit up again next summer.

Before the calendar rolls over to 2010, the Pioneers will need to make a decision on who will serve as the team's coach next summer. At least one candidate shouldn't be too difficult to locate.