Team opens state against Torrington
A bevy of early errors and struggles in the batter's box conspired with a quality Gillette squad to deny the Powell Pioneers a second consecutive North Division title. Powell finished district tournament play with a 2-1 record. The team carries the No. 2 seed into state tournament play in Sheridan this week.
“We didn't make the plays we needed to and we didn't swing the bats as well as we can,” said Pioneer coach Mike Jameson. “Those are things you can't have happen at this time of the year.”
Not even Pioneer starting pitcher Scotty Jameson's nine early punch-outs of Gillette batters was enough to overcome Powell's miscues in the field. Powell was charged with four defensive errors in the first four innings. The result was an early four-run lead for the Roughriders.
The Pioneers finally scored their first hit and their first run of the contest in the fourth inning. Jameson provided Powell with its first hit of the night with a one-out single. Catcher Auston Carter followed two batters later with a solid two-out double to the right-center gap to score the run.
The momentum never carried over. Two innings later, the Roughriders connected off Jameson for a two-run home run, chasing the Pioneers longtime ace from the hill.
Josh Cragoe came aboard in the seventh and retired Gillette in order, but encountered troubles in the eighth. With one out and Powell still trailing by a 6-1 margin on the scoreboard, Gillette had six of its next seven batters reach base safely. The result was six additional Gillette runs.
Powell attempted to avert being run-ruled in the bottom of the eighth as Jameson drove in Josh Cragoe as the pair delivered Powell's only back-to-back hits of the night. A pair of infield ground balls followed, denying the Pioneers an opportunity to record their 40th win of the season.
To reach the finals, the Pioneers had to overcome an early scare against Sheridan, then rolled to their second win in as many years against Class AA Casper.
Powell's district tournament got off to a less than auspicious beginning as the Sheridan Troopers teed off early for a 6-0 lead. The Troopers added a run in the second inning and carried the 7-0 advantage into the fourth inning before Powell recorded so much as a hit.
Once the Pioneers dusted their bats off, it didn't take the team long to climb back into the contest. Powell batted around the order in the fourth inning to plate four runs. The team added three more in the fifth to tie the game up.
Powell's first lead of the game came in the sixth as Grant Geiser singled home Cragoe, who had reached base on a triple earlier.
The team added three more runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth, eventually winning by a 13-11 final score.
Jake Beuster took the win for Powell after coming in early to relieve Carter, who began the game for Powell. Beuster worked 7.1 innings, giving Powell time to mount a comeback by holding Sheridan scoreless from the third through the sixth inning.
Dallas Robirds was 3-for-5 in the game. Carter made up for his struggles on the mound with a 2-for-4 showing at bat, including two RBIs.
Powell's slow starts continued in the semifinals against Casper as the two teams played to a 1-1 tie after the first three innings.
Powell finally broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning as Colt Nix drew a bases-loaded walk and Tyler England, who would finish the game 4-for-5 at the plate, followed with a two-run single. Jameson also doubled in a run in the inning to put Powell in front 5-1.
The Pioneers would add two more runs in the sixth inning as Jameson again drove in a run. The offense was more than enough for Powell starting pitcher Colter Bostick, who threw seven strong innings in which he struck out nine Casper batters. Geiser worked the final six outs in relief and also connected for a two-run single in the eighth as part of the Pioneers' final four runs of the game.
Powell, now 39-13-2 for the summer, opens state tournament play at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in Sheridan. The Pioneers play in the first game of the tournament against Torrington, a team they have faced twice previously this year. Also on Powell's side of the state bracket are AA squads Cheyenne and Casper.
Playing on the opposite side of the bracket in the first round are Gillette and Rock Springs, while tournament host Sheridan opens against Laramie. The state tournament is a full double-elimination bracket.
The tournament champion advances as Wyoming's representative to Northwest Regional play in Spokane, Wash., while the top-ranking Class A team moves on to regional play at Bozeman, Mont.
Casper, Cheyenne and Gillette are the only AA Legion programs in Wyoming this summer.