Cubs take season sweep of Pioneers

Attention now turns to district tournament

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Friday’s regular-season finale between the Powell Pioneers and the Cody Cubs could almost be described as extended batting practice, with the teams combining for an astounding 25 hits.

Unfortunately for the Pioneers, 23 of those hits belonged to Cody. On a night where the Cubs honored their seniors, the older team didn’t disappoint, pounding out 23 hits, including three home runs, to rout Powell 26-0.

“Cody’s the best-hitting team in the state, and they proved that,” said Powell manager Joe Cates. “They hit the ball. That’s kind of what it came down to. I don’t think we walked very many guys — three walks and three hit batters, I think. All three of our pitchers came in and threw strikes,” he said. “Cody just put the ball in play really well.”

Cody senior Jared Grenz proved the biggest Pioneer killer of the bunch, going 4-4 with a pair of home runs and eight RBIs. Cates said Grenz is one of those players he’s glad he doesn’t have to gameplan for next season.

“What did he have, two home runs?” Cates said. “I think he was a triple away from hitting for the cycle. He had a game.”

Sidelined for a month due to a shoulder injury, Powell’s Tyler Feller got the start on the mound, putting in three innings of work. Feller gave up seven runs on seven hits (five earned) while striking out four. Ryley Meyer and Mason Marchant combined for three innings in relief, allowing 19 runs on 16 hits.

About Feller, Cates said it was a good first game back for the Pioneers’ lone senior, and he’s excited to have him back in the rotation in time for the district tournament.

“Feller did fairly well. I was very happy with how he threw,” Cates said. “He was geting ahead of hitters for the most part, throwing strikes, throwing his curveball and change-up for strikes. Granted, he gave up some runs, but he did a good job against a team who everything they hit fell. Everything they hit found a hole.”

Cates now has the rest of the week to get Feller ready for the start of the district tournament on Thursday.

“He [Feller] might start or go in against Green River,” he said. “We’ll see. He’s one of my mentally strong guys, so I know I can put him in situations and mentally he’ll be OK and be ready for it.”

Powell’s struggles extended to the plate, as the Pioneers managed just two hits in the contest. Cody ace Connor McLeod pitched 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before Ethan Johnston came on in relief in the sixth. Cameron Wentz broke up the no-hitter with a single in the top of the seventh; Kobe Ostermiller singled two batters later for the Pioneers’ second and final hit of the game.

“We definitely struggled at the plate,” Cates said. “The Cody kid threw great; I don’t want to take anything away from him — he threw lights out —  but he was effectively wild. We were taking pitches down the middle and swinging at pitches above our hands. We want to get our front foot down early. We weren’t doing the things we worked on all year, which is shortening up and making contact. Too many guys going way too big with their swings.”

The Pioneers’ focus now turns to this week’s district tournament in Cowley, with Powell opening the tournament as the fourth seed against a familiar opponent: Green River. Three of the Pioneers’ eight wins on the season have come against the Knights, including a 7-6 nail-biter in Powell’s home finale. Green River bounced back the next day with an upset over Lovell, a team the Pioneers have yet to find an answer for this summer. Cates said the Knights will be a tough test.

“I told the guys get back to where they were, get back to comfortable,” Cates said. “These games are have-to-win games. After Green River, we’ll have the possibility of playing Casper, and I expect us to win.”

The Pioneers face Green River in the opening round of the district tournament in Cowley at 10 a.m. Thursday.

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