Pioneers win four more

Johnson throws no-no

Posted 5/20/21

Early in the Powell Pioneers’ Saturday doubleheader against the Casper Drillers, it looked like their undefeated season was at risk.

Trailing 4-0 late in the game, the Pioneers …

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Pioneers win four more

Johnson throws no-no


Early in the Powell Pioneers’ Saturday doubleheader against the Casper Drillers, it looked like their undefeated season was at risk.

Trailing 4-0 late in the game, the Pioneers couldn’t find a rhythm at the plate, thanks to a dominant performance on the hill by Casper starting pitcher Justin Wicks. Wicks established his control early, throwing 5.1 scoreless frames.

“They went to their first at-bats confident, he [Wicks] made us look foolish and our confidence dwindled,” manager Joe Cates said. “He [Wicks] threw great against us and kept us off balance.”

Even with a strong performance on the mound from Kolt Flores — who threw six quality innings — the squad trailed by four runs entering the seventh, due to the drought in the batter’s box. 

But when Casper opted to pull Wicks, the Pioneers found life. Clutch hits from Keaton Rowton, Brock Johnson and Cade Queen paved the way for an eight-run seventh, giving Powell its first lead. 

Once the hitters realized what they were capable of at the plate, their production skyrocketed. 

“We hit a few hard balls and the confidence jumped back up,” Cates said.

Johnson then retired the side in the bottom half of the inning, clinching his squad the 8-4 win. 

Powell’s seventh-inning comeback in game one sparked dominant baseball the rest of the weekend — in every aspect. The Pioneers went on to defeat the Drillers 14-2 in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader before taking down Buffalo 18-0 and 17-3 on Sunday. The Powell Legion squad is now 8-0 to begin the year.

In his second start of the year, freshman Trey Stenerson excelled on the mound. In game two of Saturday’s action, he allowed just one hit in three innings of work. 

In addition to Stenerson’s precision on the bump, his
batters supported him. The team scored seven runs in the first inning and added seven later in the game, pitting the Drillers in an inescapable hole, which ended with a 12-run win. 

The next day, Powell’s victories were even more lopsided. 

Johnson threw a five-inning no-hitter, allowing just two baserunners the entire game. The freshman has been consistent in each of his appearances this year, and his arsenal was at its best Sunday.  

“His fastball was working; he really didn’t have to throw much off-speed,” Cates said of Johnson. “They were behind and had no chance at him.”

Not only did he throw a no-no, Johnson was also Powell’s top hitter in the first game Sunday. He led the team with four hits and six RBIs, while Kobe Ostermiller and Jhett Schwahn each added three hits. 

The Pioneers wrapped up the weekend with another blowout, recording 21 hits in the 17-3 win. Powell scored in every inning other than the first. 

Ostermiller once again had a hot bat, posting a team-high five hits and four RBIs. On Sunday, he moved from cleanup to leadoff and adjusted well. His eight hits included two triples and an inside-the-park home run.

“Kobe [Ostermiller] was lights out,” Cates said. “He went off.”

Schwahn had four hits and three RBIs, Flores had three hits and Stenerson had three RBIs. Between the Pioneers’ four games, they scored 57 runs for an average of 14.25 per game. 

After such a dry start to the weekend, the team’s late-game heroics in game one against Casper led to proficiency at the plate in the subsequent three games.

“Everybody hit well,” Cates said. “It carried us tremendously in the sense that they know if they hit, they aren’t going to get beat very often.”

With eight wins under their belts through eight games, the Pioneers have surpassed their win total from 2019, just two seasons ago. It’s a testament to the players’ dedication and constant work to become a more cohesive group.

But even with his team’s recent dominance, Cates knows the boys have to avoid complacency as they near the heat of the season. 

“If we continue to work the way we are, we’re going to keep getting better,” he said. “But if we just ride where we’re at, we’re not going to stay hot.”

Powell Pioneers