While it didn't appear to be headed in this direction on Wednesday, June 12, the Badlands Big Sticks and the Pierre Trappers enjoyed another marathon of a ballgame.
One day earlier, the two teams combined for 33 runs in a contest that went in favor of the visitors and took approximately four hours to complete.
With a chance to earn the series victory, Pierre entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a 3-0 lead, a margin it held since the opening frame, but the home team tied the game and sent it into extras.
Following a scoreless tenth, the Big Sticks had a runner on second with one out and Nathan Sanders at the plate. The centerfielder hit a weak comebacker to reliever A.J. Fell, who turned his attention towards shortstop Anthony Tulimero sprinting to third base. Fell pivoted and fired to third, but his throw got away from infielder Zane Phelps, allowing Tulimero to gallop easily into home.
For the second time in three nights, Badlands captured a walk-off victory, as it defeated the Trappers 4-3 from the Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
"It was awesome," Sanders said. "I got lucky there. He kind of bobbled it, but we came out with a win, so at the end of the day, that's all that matters."
Representing the tying run with two runners on in the bottom of the seventh, Sanders hit a can of corn out to left field for the final out of the inning. The Smyrna, Tenn. product redeemed himself in the ninth.
After the first three Big Sticks batters walked to open the frame, catcher Ben Thoma struck out looking on a fastball catching the outside corner from closer Jared Dinisi. Next, Sanders delivered a sharp single into the outfield as Garrett Dupuis and Kaimana Souza Paaluhi scored to close the deficit to 3-2.
"After seeing these guys battling real hard, you just want to put it in play and give them a chance," Sanders said.
Batting first in the Badlands order, second baseman Ryan Walstad followed Sanders heroics with a sacrifice fly that scored Tulimero from third. With two down in the ninth, right fielder Mason Schwellenbach thought he ended the game when he lifted a fly ball deep to the left-center field gap. As Sanders rounded second, the ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double, which planted runners on second and third.
Pierre head coach Tanner Neale elected to intentionally walk third baseman Bryson Ford to load the bases. The skipper's decision paid off as designated hitter Conner VanCleave grounded out to second.
"We got to make (Dinisi) be in the zone and basically treating every pitch like its a 3-0 green light," Badlands head coach Hayden Pewitt said. "Credit to the guys, there were some tough pitches to lay off of. They did it and we earned those walks, so good for us."
The Big Sticks were less fortunate against Trappers starter Dominic Parkhurst. The right-hander from Tucson, Ariz. held the home team off the board as he allowed six hits and no walks through 6 ⅔ innings.
"Dom's going to give you a pretty good dose of a two-seamer and a slider that compliment each other and move towards both sides of the plate, and that's tough as a hitter to key in on one," Neale said. "One is going to run in on your hands and the other is running away from your barrel, you got to pick one. He missed a lot of barrels tonight and that's why he went so deep. He gave us a chance to win and did his job, more than we could ask for."
His counterpart struggled out of the gate. In his first start this season, Joseph Harris allowed three runs in the top of the first inning. He loaded the bases in the second as well, but he eventually settled into a groove. After allowing five hits, two walks and hitting a batter in the first two innings, Harris relinquished just one hit and no walks over the next four frames. The right-hander from Gillette, Wyo. fanned six batters in his six innings of work.
"Joe Harris was phenomenal after the first. That was his first start of the year, too," Pewitt said. "That was really good to see and I think he'll stay in the starting rotation from now on."
The same two teams will meet on Thursday in the rubber match, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
Badlands Big Sticks 4, Pierre Trappers (F/11)
PTR 300 000 000 00 - 3 10 2
BBS 000 000 003 01 - 4 9 1
PTR, Dom Parkhurst (6.2), Tiger Cox (0.1), Nathen Morris (1), Jared Dinisi (0.2), AJ Fell (1.2) and Alex Gonzales. BBS, Joseph Harris (6), Cort Dietrich (3.1), Dallas Bryan (1.2) and Ben Thoma.
W-Bryan. L-Fell. HR-None.
Highlights: PTR, Nick Altermatt 2-4, 2B, R; Gonzales 2-5, R; Parkhurst 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 K. BBS, Mason Schwellenbach 2-4, 2B; Kaimana Souza Paaluhi 2-3, R; Nathan Sanders 2-5, 3 RBI; Ben Thoma 1-5; Anthony Tulimero 1-4, 2 R; Bryson Ford 1-4; Harris 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K; Dietrich 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K; Bryan 1.2 IP, 1 BB.