Playing second base, Mason Schwellenbach made the two biggest plays of the game for the Badlands Big Sticks on Saturday night at Astoria Field as they squeaked out a narrow, 5-4 victory over Pierre.
Up by a single run with two outs in the ninth inning, Schwellenbach was busy making sure the runner on second base didn’t get too big of a lead off the bag.
A hard ground ball was hit in the gap between first and second base, and he sprinted then dove stopping the ball.
First baseman Theo May attempted to get to the ground ball too, but after Schwellenbach dove and stopped it, May managed to get back to the bag in the knick of time for a bang bang play to end the game.
“The batter was behind the whole count…,” Schwellenbach said. "I was holding the runner at second and I didn’t know if it was a good idea. Every pitch I was running back to my spot. I saw him hit it and I knew I had to dive.”
The Big Sticks (25-16) head coach Billy Tomblin was impressed by Schwellenbach’s game saving play as the runner on second would have scored to tie the game had the runner at first not been out, but Tomblin believes that the biggest play of the game came in the seventh inning from Schwellenbach.
With the Big Sticks down 4-3, shortstop Wyatt Setian hit a ball hard to left field plating center fielder Nathan Sanders.
Schwellenbach was on first base, and the left fielder made a lazy attempt at the ball allowing him instinctively race to third base taking the extra bag.
The high IQ baseball play allowed third baseman Gaylan Young to drive home Schwellenbach one batter later in what was the go ahead and eventual game winning run.
“To do something like that is big time, but the bigger play of the game was him running in that left fielders face,” Tomblin said. “Without a doubt, he ran right in front of him and got to third. That put us in a position to score another run which gave us the lead. That was the play of the game and it won us the game.”
Schwellenbach added, “Wyatt hit a ball to left sharp and out of the gate I was sprinting pretty hard. I was looking to see what the outfielder did and I took the bag at third.”
Both of Setian’s hits came at clutch times. His first hit was a four bagger over the fence driving in Chewy Sanders and himself in the fifth frame.
As a team, Badlands only recorded six hits, but they only gave up six as well as Dallas Bryan shined on the mound.
In his first start in a long time, he went six innings striking out seven.
“I hope we are peaking at the right time,” Tomblin said. “Our pitching staff has been good all year and they keep giving us an opportunity to win. That is all we ask and Dallas got his first start today. He did a great job.”
Badlands goes for the series win on Sunday afternoon at 4:35 p.m.