Four games in two days proved a tough test for the Powell Pioneers baseball team last weekend.
The Pioneers lost a pair of games in Cody, 9-7 and 12-3 on Saturday, then turned around and played another double-header at home on Sunday, falling 14-0 and 14-3 to the Billings Halos.
Pioneers manager George Laughlin took away some positives from the games.
“We definitely, definitely improved between the first weekend and this last weekend, and you know, despite the score, I thought we actually played better Sunday than we did on Saturday,” Laughlin said, pointing to fewer mental errors. “We knew what we wanted to do with the baseball and the guys just seemed more locked in on Sunday,”
In the opening 9-7 loss in Cody, Powell had nine hits, including two from Zane Cordes.
Nate Brown pitched four innings, allowing two runs while striking out five Broncs; Riley Meyer pitched two innings with two strikeouts and four runs.
In the second game, the 12-3 loss, Powell picked up six hits — including two each from Nate Brown and Tyler Feller.
Cordes pitched 2 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and eight runs allowed; Jaxson Carter threw 3 2/3 innings with two strikeouts and three runs.
On Sunday, the Pioneers hosted the Billings Halos.
Laughlin said that the two Billings teams — Halos and Angels — are kind of feeder programs for each other, with the Halos being the upper level of the two. The team is comprised of mainly 18- and 19-year-olds.
“They’re a very good team and they hit the ball extremely well,” Laughlin said. “They’re disciplined at the plate.”
In the 14-0 loss, Powell got hits from Feller, Nate Brown and Cameron Schmidt. Feller pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing four funs and picking up a strikeout.
In game two, the 14-3 loss, Powell collected six hits. Feller and Zavier Wantulok each had two.
The Pioneers pushed across their three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With bases loaded, Wantulok hit a deep sacrifice fly that scored Colin Queen from third base and advanced Feller to third and Luke Washington to second.
With two outs, a Halos pitch made it to the backstop, allowing Feller to score and Washington to take third. A couple pitches later, the ball got away from the Halos again and Washington took advantage to score the Pioneers’ third run.
“We were pretty disciplined at the plate,” said Laughlin of the fifth inning. “That comes from being prepared in the box. We knew the kid was throwing strikes and usually it was a first-pitch fastball.”
Laughlin added that the Pioneers’ success in the fifth inning came from “a good solid approach at the plate and taking swings at pitches they could hit.”
Colin Queen and Jesse Brown each pitched three innings. Queen picked up four strikeouts and allowed three runs; Jesse Brown had three strikeouts and gave up six runs.
Laughlin said that most of the time, the players knew right away when they made a mistake in last weekend’s competition. He said the Pioneers are mentally in tune with the game of baseball — asking questions, wanting to learn and getting better and better each week.
“That’s one thing they’ve shown this year, is that no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is, you know during the games they are completely locked in and giving 100 percent from the first pitch to the last pitch,” Laughlin said, adding, “the exciting thing about having a team that’s on the younger side is seeing them improve and watching that growth from week to week.”
Next up for the Pioneer baseball team is a Saturday doubleheader against the Billings Angels, with games at noon and 2 p.m.