The Badlands Big Sticks welcomed a crowd to Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark on Friday night in what many thought would be impossible earlier this spring.
The game came down to the final play, and the Big Sticks came out on top, 3-2 beating Souris Valley.
Big Sticks first baseman Conner VanCleave doubled to start the bottom of the ninth inning and after an intentional walk and a batter hit by a pitch the bases were loaded with Cadyn Schwabe up to bat and two outs. He checked his swing but didn’t go making the count 3-1, and after a strike, the count was full.
He drew a ball scoring VanCleave and the rest was history.
“This crowd tonight was awesome. The environment was great…” Big Sticks head coach Billy Tomblin said. “They found a way and I am so happy for our kids… I had full confidence in Cadyn. He was either going to smack one in the left center gap to win the game or the pitcher was going to miss arm side.”
The bats were cold for both teams for most of the night as each team recorded four hits and a total of 10 pitchers were used in the contest.
Players pitch counts were 45 for the season opener and Stu Flesland of Boise State made the opening day start for Badlands and he went two and two-thirds innings with four strikeouts.
“Stu is a talented kid. He did a great job,” Tomblin said. “Every pitcher we threw tonight did a good job.”
Right fielder Mason Schwellebach roped a double down the line, and he didn’t even need another hit to score the Big Sticks first run of the season.
A wild pitch advanced him to third and then another wild pitch allowed him to cross home plate and tie the contest at one.
Dickinson native and designated hitter Cody Maier then plated the a run making the score 2-1 with a single up the middle scoring third baseman Gaylan Young who had drawn a walk.
In the top of the third inning, the Sabre Dogs executed a double steal perfect and center fielder Allen Grier advanced to third base. Souris Valley shortstop Mason Dineson knocked him in during the same at bat with help from an error by Badlands shortstop Wyatt Setian.
A few innings later in the seventh, Souris Valley tied the game at two. Third baseman Ivan Prejean singled between third base and shortstop, scoring right fielder Tim Conway from second who was hit by a pitch and moved over to second base on a wild pitch.
An error by Setian allowed Grier to reach and Prejean took advantage, booking it over to third base.
Greier stole second base, but the Sabre Dogs left two runners in scoring position to end the threat in the seventh.
Maier and Schwabe batted runs in and Maier, Schwellenbach, VanCleave and Young all had one hit for Badlands.
The Big Sticks host Souris Valley again on Saturday night at 6:35 p.m.