Westward expansion

Posted 8/4/09

“All weekend, it just seemed like everything was stacked against us,” said Gianluca Giarrizzo. “We just kept playing through it. We weren't going to let anything stop us.”

The Pioneers improved to 45-15 overall this season …

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Westward expansion


{gallery}08_04_09/pioneers{/gallery} The Powell Pioneers celebrate on the diamond after recording the final out in their de facto Class A title game against Laramie. While not the last game of the Pioneers' tournament appearance, the 11-5 victory over the Rangers ensured Powell of a place in this week's American Legion Northwest regional tournament in Utah. Powell knocked off Riverton, Cody and Laramie to capture the Class A title and improve to 45-15 on the summer. The team plays Anchorage, Alaska, at 7 p.m. on Friday to open Northwest regional play in Utah. Tribune photo by John WetzelPioneers claim A crown, headed for UtahThe Powell Pioneers American Legion Post 26 baseball team played its way to a Class A state title in Rock Springs last week. The team will travel to Ogden, Utah, to continue its season in regional play and try for a spot in the World Series.

“All weekend, it just seemed like everything was stacked against us,” said Gianluca Giarrizzo. “We just kept playing through it. We weren't going to let anything stop us.”

The Pioneers improved to 45-15 overall this season with wins of 5-3 over Riverton, 15-5 over Cody and 11-5 over Laramie. The team's only losses at state came at the hands of Gillette by final scores of 28-8 and 16-3.

“These kids are just fearless,” said head coach Mike Jameson. “We saw some great pitching and they were able to put the ball in play and get some runs. All tournament, they never backed down.”

The Pioneers were matched in a pitching duel to open state tournament play as they faced Riverton. Tyler Dahlgren took to the hill against Raiders' ace Matt Raymond.

“Matt's one of the top pitchers in the state,” Jameson said. “Tyler matched him and our kids went out and did a good job of putting some runs on the board for us.”

The Pioneers got out to a 3-1 lead, before Riverton fought back to score a pair of runs and tie the contest. The scoreboard remained deadlocked as the teams entered the ninth inning, where Powell capitalized on a pair of Riverton errors to tally the winning runs.

Colter Bostick threw three scoreless innings of baseball in relief to pick up the win for the Pioneers while Grant Geiser scored three of the team's five runs with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate.

The win advanced Powell to a rematch against Gillette. In the early going, it appeared as though the Pioneers would once again have the Roughriders' number.

Thanks in part to a 3-for-4 performance from Giarrizzo that resulted in three Pioneer runs, Powell grabbed an early 5-2 lead and narrowly missed extending that gap when Bostick's second-inning shot came up a couple feet short of leaving the park.

Gillette stormed back into the contest, tying the game in the third before taking the lead for good in the fourth. The real disaster for Powell came in the sixth inning as Gillette batted around the order twice as part of a 17-run onslaught that sent Powell spiralling into the elimination half of the bracket.

The Pioneers continued to struggle at the start of Friday's play. Cody opened a 5-3 lead after four innings before Powell handed the baseball off to staff ace Scotty Jameson. Jameson responded by giving the Pioneers four shutout innings of work, during which time the Pioneers built a comfortable lead.

Dallas Robirds finished 4-for-6 at the plate with a pair of doubles and 5 RBI's. Jameson added a 4-for-6 performance of his own with three RBI's while Bostick sent a ball sailing out of the park as part of a two RBI day.

Jameson's pitching played a prominent role in Friday's second game against Laramie as well. Playing for the Class A title, the Pioneers turned the ball over to Jameson, and the Pioneer pitcher delivered in a big way.

Jameson carried a shutout into the seventh inning, during which time Powell built a 5-0 lead. After handing the ball off to Geiser in the eighth, Jameson returned to the hill to close out the contest in the ninth.

For the day, Jameson threw his tournament allotment of 12 innings, surrendering just two runs and striking out 16 total batters. He threw more than 200 pitches on the day.

“Over the last year, I've been working on my arm strength so I can go out and do what I did,” Jameson said of his herculean effort. “I just wanted to go out and throw strikes and get the win.”

Laramie made an eighth-inning rally against Powell to pull within 7-5 on the scoreboard, but the Pioneers closed the door in the top of the ninth as Andrew Young smacked a solo home run and Geiser followed two batters later with a two-run dinger. Bostick connected for a solo home run earlier in the game to give the Pioneers a three-homer day.

Bostick, Geiser and Giarrizzo each finished 3-for-5 at the plate. The trio accounted for seven of Powell's 11 RBI's.

The win over Laramie assured the Pioneers of the Class A state title and earned the team a rematch with Gillette.

Running short on pitching arms, the Pioneers found themselves overpowered shortly after Young's second home run of the tournament lifted Powell to an early and brief 2-1 lead.

Jake Buester finished 2-for-3 at the plate with a double. Josh Cragoe also went 2-for-3 as Powell connected for seven total hits.

“I'm proud for the kids,” said Pioneer coach Danny Shorb, who was a pitcher on Powell's last state championship team in 2001. “It definitely feels different being on the coaching side.”

After the tournament, Matt Baggett was named the winner of the umpires' Spirit of the Legion award for best bestowing the qualities of an American Legion baseball player. Jameson, Geiser and Giarrizzo were also revealed as all-district team members for their play at the North district tournament in Casper the previous week. The trio could easily find their way onto the all-state roster as well once that list is announced.

The Pioneers don't have a lot of time to bask in their accomplishment. The team pulls out of town on Thursday morning to attend Northwest regional play in Ogden, Utah. Powell's first-round game in the eight-team double-elimination tournament will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday night against Anchorage, Alaska. The host Ogden team, as well as state champions from Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington will round out the tournament field.

“We'll go down and continue to play good baseball,” said Mike Jameson. “These kids have shown they won't back down from a challenge. They're going to go down there and give it everything they've got.”