Pioneers fall to Riverton, weather over weekend

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The Powell Pioneers Legion A baseball team was on the road over the Memorial Day weekend, returning home with a mixed bag of results.

Saturday found the Pioneers in Riverton, where a disastrous fourth inning led to a 13-1 loss to open conference play. Monday’s game against Billings had the Pioneers angling back into the win column with a 5-1 lead after two innings. But as she’s done frequently this season, Mother Nature made an appearance, forcing a cancellation of the game due to rain.

“Overall it was an OK weekend,” said Pioneers’ head coach Joe Cates. “We’re seeing the ball well, we put the ball in play. We didn’t strike out very much.”

Saturday’s game at Riverton got off to a good start for the Pioneers, with Colin Queen getting the start on the mound.

“Colin [Queen] has been real consistent for us, pounding the zone full of strikes. He did the same against Riverton, he came out and really pounded the zone,” said Cates. “He had control of the ball game.”

Queen gave up a couple earned runs and two unearned runs coming from errors behind him. With his pitch count creeping up, Queen was pulled in the fourth inning in favor of Nate Brown. With two outs and runners on first and second, Brown took care of the player at the plate, recording a strikeout to end the inning.

And that’s when the wheels came off. Brown started the fifth by hitting the first two batters he faced; a bunt by the next batter loaded the bases. A walk and a pair of base hits followed, and before the Pioneers knew what hit them, Riverton had scored nine straight runs to blow the game open.

“We pulled Brown and brought in Cameron Wentz, and Wentz struggled a bit,” Cates said. “He walked two or three guys, and then we brought in Mason Marchant, our freshman. He pounded the zone and got us out of the inning.”

Marchant came out again for the sixth, striking out the side and leaving two runners on base. But the nine-run fifth proved too much to overcome, and the Pioneers lost 13-1.

“It was one bad inning, not pounding the zone, just not doing the little things well,” Cates said. “We weren’t throwing strikes, and that killed us. Our downfall really was that we had some mental mistakes on the bases, and some rough pitching for one inning, and that’s what cost us the ball game.”

Despite the score, Cates said the Pioneers were hitting the ball well; the lack of runs was a combination of poor baserunning and hits not dropping.

“We should have had a few runs; we just kind of struggled on the bases a little bit,” he said. “Guys would forget to tag, hesitate on ground balls when they should be going right away, that kind of thing. It’s a bit of a momentum killer, when you have a chance to score a run and you don’t.”

The Pioneers had a day to shake off the loss before heading to Billings for a Memorial Day doubleheader against the Angels. But after jumping out to a quick 5-1 lead in the first game, the rain began and never stopped. Ryley Meyer got the start for Powell but only threw 17 pitches before the game was called.

“We score four in the first, come back and score one in the second,” Cates said. “We’re seeing the ball well, guys are getting hits. Then it starts to sprinkle, and bam! It was like a wall of rain just hit us.”

Cates said the Pioneers probably won’t have the opportunity to make up the games due to a busy schedule for both teams, though he would’ve liked to have finished the weekend.

“It would have been nice to have two more wins under our belts, get out of there with a winning record,” Cates said. “But I like where we’re at — I love how aggressive we’ve been at the plate. The guys are having fun and they’re confident.”

The Pioneers are a young team, but Cates said he likes what he’s seen this season so far.

“I think the team really trusts each other,” he said. “We’ve got some freshmen that came up from Babe Ruth this year [who] have some grit to them. They’re not afraid to go [all] out. It’s been good to see that ... If this team stays together and keeps playing, I don’t see why they can’t make state the next two years.”

The Pioneers are home this weekend, hosting a doubleheader Saturday against the Billings Blue Jays. Game times are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Powell team will then host a doubleheader Monday against the Cody B squad starting at 5:30 p.m.

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