Before entering a five game game stretch against the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks, the Badlands Big Sticks were 4-10 and struggling for consistency in the win column.
Going into Wednesday night’s game, the Big Sticks won their last three games, all against Wheat City and were looking to ride the momentum to another victory.
The runs were slow to begin with but things heated up in a hurry late as the Whiskey Jacks defeated Badlands 12-11. Seventeen of the 23 runs scored in the game came after the fourth inning.
Both starting pitchers were able to keep the game a low-scoring affair as Wheat City held a 4-3 lead going into the sixth inning.
Joe Harris for the Big Sticks and Piepmeier Ronny for the Whiskey Jacks both went at least five innings, with Harris going six and a third, as the bats woke up for both sides.
Wheat City extended their lead 6-3 in the top of the sixth inning after a couple of RBI knocks. The Big Sticks answered with a run of their own to cut the deficit 6-4, but they would get their chance to take the lead in the next inning.
Carson Lundmark would reach on an error to begin the seventh that would spark a six-run rally for the Big Sticks.
The next two batters were walked to load the bases for Derek Gellos, whose two-run single scored the first runs in the inning.
Alex Thurston sent another run home on a fielder’s choice RBI, which was only the first out of the inning as Badlands threatened to score more runs. Jack Wagner, Joe Osborn and Lundmark would account for the other three runs in the innings before Lundmark would be thrown out attempting to reach second on a sacrifice fly.
After the dust settled, it was 10-7, advantage Big Sticks.
However, the visitors would answer immediately with a big rally of their own.
Big Sticks pitcher Daniel Rivera loaded the bases in the top of the eighth with one out as the Whiskey Jacks had their eyes on taking back the lead.
Houston Fogelstrom was the next batter up and hit a two-run single, cutting into the deficit 10-9. This left two on base for Ethan Sitzman to send home on a two-run triple to retake the lead 11-10.
One more run was scored for good measure in the inning for a 12-10 lead. Eleven runs combined, six by the Big Sticks and five from the Whiskey Jacks in back-to-back innings turned the game on it’s head.
The next two half-innings were quiet run-wise as the bottom of the ninth came around where the Big Sticks made one last attempt to steal the win.
Carson Lundmark had another RBI to make the score 12-11 and eventually got in scoring position, representing the tying run with Angel De La Cruz at the plate.
He hit a soft fly ball to left field that looked like it would drop for the game tying RBI, but Wheat City left fielder Nolan Lingley tracked the ball from a long way out to secure the final out and the victory.
It was a tough break for the Big Sticks as they were the final team on offense in a contest filled with great performances at the plate. Badlands out-hit Wheat City 16-12.
Osborn and Ryan Stafford both had three hits and four Big Sticks players had multiple RBI, led by Matt Olive with three. Two of his RBI came on a two-run home run in the first inning, his first long ball of the summer.
Fogelstrom went 3-for-4 with five RBI for the Whiskey Jacks, including a three-run home run in the second inning.
Rivera was the losing pitcher in this contest, giving up three runs, all unearned, in his one inning of work.
The loss drops the Big Sticks to 7-11 as they face Wheat City one last time this week on Thursday.