Coming off a 19-5 loss against Laramie that was closer than the score might indicate, the Powell Pioneers Legion A baseball team swept a doubleheader at Green River 13-3 and 3-1 over the weekend. After a slow start to the season, the Pioneers (5-19, 1-5) are now 3-1 in their last four games.
“Everything clicked this time around,” said Powell manager Joe Cates. “Our pitching was great in both games and we were hitting the ball, making smart decisions. It made for a good ride home.”
Pioneers 13, Green River 3
Colin Queen allowed just two hits and one unearned over six innings and Cameron Wentz and Nate Brown combined to drive in six runs as the Pioneers beat Green River (8-19, 1-4) in the first game of a day-night doubleheader 13-3 on Saturday.
In a turnaround from what’s frustratingly become the norm this season, the Pioneers were the beneficiaries of the 10-run mercy rule rather than the victim.
“Colin Queen threw a great game,” Cates said, adding, “He didn’t walk anybody until his last inning, where he walked two guys. That made all the difference in the world.”
Powell exploded for a 10-run first inning, catching the Knights on their heels. Cates changed up the batting order, putting his younger players at the top, and the strategy seemed to work. After Kobe Ostermiller grounded out to lead off the inning, fellow freshman Zane Cordes and Queen singled to get things started. Jesse Brown walked to load the bases, and Cameron Schmidt followed with a double to left field, scoring Cordes and Queen to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead.
“Switching up the batting order actually worked out really well for us,” Cates said. The manager said he and assistant coach Pat Croft “were talking the other night about Cordes hitting the ball as well as he has been, and Kobe [Ostermiller] just being able to have consistent at-bats throughout the year, so we just kind of took it and ran with it.”
With Jesse Brown on third and Schmidt on second, Nate Brown doubled to left, clearing the bases ande making the score 4-0. Nate Brown advanced to third on a groundout by Ashton Brewer, and with two outs, Wentz singled Nate Brown home to push the lead to 5-0.
But the Pioneers weren’t done yet. Reece Hackenberg singled to right, advancing Wentz to third. In his second at-bat of the inning, Ostermiller was hit by a pitch. Cordes walked and, with the bases loaded, Queen singled to left to score Hackenberg and Ostermiller. A wild pitch by Green River reliever Ramsey Taliaferro put Cordes on third and Queen on second, setting the stage for a two-out, two-run double by Jesse Brown to make the score 10-0.
“That first inning was great. I think we had eight hits against three pitchers that inning. We had a couple of timely walks as well,” Cates said. “It was nice to be on the other side of a big inning like that.”
Queen struck out two in the bottom of the first en route to a nine-strikeout outing. The game was a pitcher’s duel from that point on, with Green River finally getting on the board with a run in the fourth, followed by a pair of runs in the seventh to cut the lead to 10-3.
After the 10-run first inning, the Pioneers wouldn’t cross the plate again until the top of the eighth. Queen reached first on an error to lead off, followed by a single by Jesse Brown. Nate Brown singled to load the bases and, with two outs and the bases loaded, Wentz doubled to center, clearing the bases and making the score 13-3. Relief pitcher Jesse Brown retired the Knights in order in the bottom of the eighth, ending the game on the mercy rule.
The Pioneers pounded out 16 hits, including four doubles by four different players. Nate Brown and Jesse Brown both finished with three hits on the day, including a double and two RBIs by each. Cordes, Queen, Wentz and Hackenberg all had two-hit games, with Wentz leading the team with four RBIs. Schmidt and Brewer had a hit apiece, with Schmidt’s a two-run double.
Queen pitched a gem on the hill, giving up three runs on two hits and striking out nine in 6.1 innings of work. Jesse Brown pitched 1.2 innings in relief, giving up no hits or runs and walking one.
“It was a very good outing for Colin [Queen]; he was able to spot up better than he has all year,” Cates said. “He did a great job pounding that outside corner, and it got to the point where I think the umpire was just giving him that pitch because it was so consistent. That helps a pitcher out a lot. He threw very, very well, which was nice to see.”
Pioneers 3, Green River 1
The second game of the Pioneers’ doubleheader against Green River was a bit more subdued at the plate but garnered the same result, as Powell came out on top of a pitcher’s duel 3-1.
Powell managed just three hits over seven innings, but the hits came when they counted and came from three different players.
“They went into this game relaxed and having fun,” Cates said of his squad. “Our bats were OK. They weren’t the best at-bats, but they put the ball in play. We flew out a lot more than we should have. They played nice and loose on defense, and communicated well.”
Ryley Meyer got the start for Powell and didn’t disappoint, allowing just two hits over five innings and striking out four. Meyer was roughed up in his two previous starts and Cates was initially unsure whether the young righty was up to the task. A quick talk with Meyer, however, was all the convincing Cates would need.
“I was going to start Mason [Marchant],” Cates said. “But Tyler [Feller] wanted to start Ryley. So we sat Ryley down and asked, ‘Hey, where’s your head?’ He said he was ready to go, and he came out throwing strikes.”
The game was scoreless until the top of the third, when Powell plated a run to take a 1-0 lead. The Pioneers scored twice more in the top of the fifth to close the door on the Knights. Cameron Schmidt was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and advanced all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nate Brown. Meyer helped out his own cause with a single to score Schmidt and advance Brown to second. After Brown was called out on a pickoff move at second, Marchant singled to left. A fielder’s choice advanced Meyer to third, and Noah Blough walked to load the bases. Cameron Wentz then walked on four straight pitches, scoring Meyer and pushing the lead to 3-0 before Ostermiller grounded out to end the inning.
The Knights plated a run in the bottom of the fifth, and that would be the final run of the game for either team, with Powell returning home with a 3-1 win and a sweep over Green River.
At the plate, Meyer, Marchant and Schmidt each finished with a single, with Meyer and Wentz recording an RBI apiece.
“We’re definitely maturing as a team as we go,” Cates said. “They were relaxed in the field. When we did commit an error, instead of getting down on themselves, they were like, ‘So what? We’ll get the next one.’ That was good to see.”
Meyer picked up the win for the Pioneers, allowing one run on two hits and striking out four.
The Pioneers will have a few days off to enjoy the Fourth of July, before hitting the road Friday for a game in Casper. The Pioneers are 0-1 this season against Casper, but if the team plays like it did in Green River, Cates likes his team’s chances.
“Casper is a team we should beat,” he said. “We’ll go into it expecting to win, and as long as the kids play the same way, we should be OK.”