Uncharted waters

Posted 8/11/09

On Sunday, that fearlessness flirted at times with reckless abandon as the Pioneers looked to prolong their Utah stay by at least one more day. Jameson and the Pioneers forced the action early and often against a Roseburg, Ore., squad that had …

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Uncharted waters


{gallery}08_11_09/pioneers{/gallery} Auston Carter absorbs contact while blocking the plate and tagging out a Roseburg baserunner. The Pioneers won the game 10-7 to reach the final four. Tribune photo by Randal HorobikPioneers one of four still sailing along in Salt Lake (Edtior's note:This story is as was at sports press time on Monday.) Win or lose from here on out, the Powell Pioneers have already made history at the 2009 Northwest regional Legion baseball tournament in Salt Lake City. The team became the first in Powell's history to advance to the regional final four by winning two of its three games to date.

On Sunday, that fearlessness flirted at times with reckless abandon as the Pioneers looked to prolong their Utah stay by at least one more day. Jameson and the Pioneers forced the action early and often against a Roseburg, Ore., squad that had endured an extra-inning affair the night before.

The Pioneers pulled just about every weapon out of the baseball arsenal early in the contest, executing steals, double steals, sacrifice bunts and even rolling the dice on a suicide squeeze on one occasion. More times than not, Powell came out on the successful side of the wager as the team grabbed a 6-1 lead in the fourth..

After struggling early against Pioneer starter Grant Geiser, Roseburg began to find its stroke at the plate and fought back to within 7-5 after seven innings, but the Pioneers weren't to be denied.

Tyler Dahlgren, stymied at the plate for much of the contest, connected for a key two-out single that drove home two runs and prolonged the eighth inning long enough for the Pioneers to reclaim a five-run cushion. Oregon answered with two runs in the bottom half of the frame, but went down 1-2-3 in the ninth as Geiser earned the complete game win.

“His performance today was huge,” Jameson said of Geiser's performance, which included a 4-for-5 day at the plate batting. “His going the distance gave us the opportunity to rest Scotty (Jameson)and Colter (Bostick) for an extra day.”

That rest could add up as the Pioneers, like every other team in the tournament, have a limit of 12 innings over a three-day span for each of their pitchers. With three games still standing between the team and a regional title, conserving innings is of the essence.

Up to this point, the name of the game has been survive and advance. The Pioneers put the survival part of that equation to the test in their tournament opener against Bonneville, Idaho. After surrendering three unearned runs in the first four innings to fall behind 3-0, the Pioneers uncorked an 11-run monster inning to take control of the scoreboard.

“Everyone on this team can swing the bat,” said Jameosn. “When everyone's on like they were that inning, we can put runs up in a hurry.”

Unfortunately for the Pioneers, Bonneville proved capable of putting runs on the board as well. The Bees chased Powell starter Scotty Jameson early in the seventh inning after trimming the gap to 13-9. The team tagged reliever Grant Geiser with a grand slam home run in the eighth for a 16-14 lead.

The Pioneers were still trailing by two runs when the team stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with their rally caps on.

Gianluca Giarrizzo started the inning with a two-strike single to left. Scotty Jameson followed with a base hit and Tyler Dahlgren knocked home a run with a shot to the outfield. With no outs, the Bees elected to intentionally walk Colter Bostick to set up a force-out opportunity at home plate. Auston Carter made them pay with a shot to the outfield that drove home the tying and winning runs and sparked a celebration in Powell's side of the stands.

“I was mad when they walked Colter to get to me,” Carter said after escaping the awaiting mob of teammates once Powell's victory was sealed.

“That's the kind of competitors these kids are,” said Mike Jameson. “The bases are loaded. The game is on the line and Auston Carter goes out there with this huge grin on his face.”

Things weren't nearly as joyful on Saturday night as Powell got roughed up by Kennewick, Wash. After falling behind 6-1 early on, the Pioneers fought back behind a 3-RBI night from Dahlgren to pull within 6-5 before disaster struck.

Kennewick tagged Bostwick, the Pioneers' starter, and Dahlgren, who took the hill in relief, for a total of 18 runs between the fourth and sixth innings to blow the game wide open in a 24-7 Powell loss. The contest was stopped in the seventh inning due to the 10-run rule after the Pioneers were unable to close the margin.

“Everyone at this tournament can hit,” said Jameson. “All of these teams can swing the bat, so it's important that we take advantage of the opportunities when we get them to put runs on the board.”

That was an area the Pioneers didn't fare well in on Saturday night. The team twice hit into double plays with the bases loaded to prematurely slam the door on innings. The Pioneers also stranded runners on second and third in the early going of the contest.

“The keys for us are to keep hitting the ball well,” said Jameson. “If we get 20 hits like we did (Sunday), we're going to be in it with anyone we play. We just need to keep hitting the ball and try to cut down our errors. I like where we're sitting.”

After three games, where the Pioneers are sitting is alongside Kennewick, Laurel, Mont.,and Fairbanks, Alaska, as the only teams still alive in the double elimination tournament. Entering play on Monday, all the teams except Laurel had one loss.