The Powell Pioneers baseball team put on a hitting display Saturday, racking up 22 hits and scoring 17 runs in a doubleheader against the visiting Billings Blue Jays.
Unfortunately, the Blue Jays were more than equal to the challenge, sweeping the Pioneers with an offensive display of their own, winning 11-7 and 21-10.
“The weekend wasn’t the outcome we were looking for, obviously,” said Powell manager Joe Cates. “But there were a lot of positives to take away from it. Their ability to respond and stay focused after giving up a couple of big innings was a plus to see.”
Billings 11, Pioneers 7
In a game that began as a pitching duel, Powell’s Ryley Meyer got the start on the hill, and pitched well through two innings, giving up just one run to the Billings squad.
But any hopes of a solid outing were dashed in the top of a wild third inning. The Blue Jays went on an offensive tear, plating 10 runs before the Pioneers were able to stop the bleeding.
Meyer was pulled midway through the third after giving up four earned runs in favor of Mason Marchant, who gave up four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. Nate Brown came on relief and got the Pioneers out of the inning, down 11-0.
“Nate [Brown] came in and pounded the zone, did what he had to do,” Cates said. “The last time he pitched, he hit two guys and walked a few, so we were hesitant to go right back to him. Now it should have been the first call I made.”
But what looked like to be the beginning of a blowout became anything but, as the Pioneers stormed back in the bottom of the third. Behind solid hitting and smart baserunning, the Pioneers responded with a seven-run inning, closing the gap and eliminating the possibility of an early end to the game.
Brown stayed on the mound to begin the fourth and remained there for the rest of the game, giving up no hits and striking out three. The Pioneers were also sharp in the field, holding the Blue Jays scoreless the rest of the game. Powell was unable to make up any ground, however, and the Blue Jays held on for the 11-7 win.
“We had a couple of defensive errors; that happens,” Cates said. “Mentally, I thought the kids did good, I can’t recall any mental errors. We tagged when we needed to, baserunning was better. It’s nice to see that they have an understanding of what they should be doing.”
The Pioneers had a solid game at the plate, with four players recording multi-hit games. Reece Hackenberg led the way for the Pioneers, going 2-3 with a double and a pair of RBI. Colin Queen, Tyler Feller and Meyer also had a pair of hits each, with Feller adding an RBI.
Cameron Schmidt went 1-4, smacking a bases-loaded triple to plate three. Kobe Ostermiller rounded out the hitting for the Pioneers with a single.
On the mound, Meyer gave up five hits and allowed six runs, four earned. Marchant gave up three hits and five runs in relief.
Billings 21, Pioneers 10
Game two of the doubleheader was a back-and-forth contest, with Powell holding a 9-8 lead heading into the top of the fifth.
The Blue Jays blew the game wide open in the top of the fifth, however, scoring 11 runs en route to a 21-10 win.
“Tyler [Feller] came out and threw strikes,” Cates said. “He might have been a little flat, so they hit him pretty good. We had a young defense behind him, I think we had four of my five freshmen starting that game. But they played well. You can’t do much when they’re [Billings] is hitting them where we ain’t.”
The Blue Jays got off to a quick start, scoring four runs in the top of the first. They added four more in the top of the third to take a 8-0 lead before the Pioneers finally crossed the plate.
After scoring a pair in the bottom of the third, Powell had a monster inning in the fourth, plating seven and taking the lead for the first time in the series at 9-8. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Blue Jays followed up their 11-run fifth to score two more in the top of the sixth, ending the day for Powell.
“Billings really swung the bat that second game; they had to have had at least 18 hits,” Cates said. “A lot of their hits were back-to-back-to-back, whereas ours were a little more spread out.”
Tyler Feller got the start on the hill for the Pioneers, surrendering seven runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings, striking out three. Cameron Wentz, Reece Hackenberg and Queen each contributed in relief for Powell.
At the plate, the Pioneers continued to pound the ball, racking up 12 hits. Queen, Garrett Stutzman and Ashton Brewer each collected multiple hits, with Queen going 3-for-3 at the plate to lead the team.
Jesse Brown went 0-4 at the plate, but collected a pair of RBI, while Brewer, Noah Blough, Stutzman, Schmidt and Cameron Wentz had an RBI apiece.
“You have to score runs to win, and right now we’re scoring runs,” Cates said. “Let’s just hope it stays contagious.”
The Pioneers hosted the Cody B team in a doubleheader Monday night, and will host Casper on Friday. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Ed Lynn Memorial Field.