Badlands leads the way with eight All-Stars in Expedition League
The league’s midsummer classic took place Tuesday night with the Big Sticks well represented.
The top players from around the Expedition League gathered in Casper, Wyo., for the annual All-Star game between the Lewis and Clark divisions.
After a 6-10 start to the season, the Badlands Big Sticks got into a groove and finished the first half of the season 17-13, good for second place in the Lewis division. They currently sit at 25-21 overall and 8-8 so far in the second half of the season.
Their notable improvement from the early stages of the summer was recognized at the league’s midsummer classic, where the Big Sticks had a league-best eight All-Star selections.
The Clark division topped the Lewis division 5-3, with Trevor Mattson from the Hastings Sodbusters earning game MVP honors.
Four pitchers and four position players were selected from Badlands to participate, with the Big Sticks' top two hitters being named in the starting lineup.
Outfielders Carson Lundmark and Joe Osborn made up two-thirds of the Lewis division outfield to begin the game as their performances at the plate this season have them near the top of the division.
Osborn leads the Lewis division in home runs with 11, just one shy of the league lead of 12 held by Brock Reller of the Fremont Moo. He also leads Badlands in RBI with 38.
Lundmark leads the team in batting average at .345, good for fourth in the division. He is second on the team in RBI with 31.
The other position players selected to the All-Star game were catcher Ryan Stafford and shortstop Alex Thurston. Stafford’s .311 batting average is good for third among catchers in the division, while Thurston has been impressive defensively, holding down the third-best fielding percentage in the division at his position.
Parker Stohr, Josh Tucker, Pat Miner and Brady Salyards from the Big Sticks pitching staff were a part of the squad in Casper. Stohr and Tucker have been starting pitchers and while Miner has made four starts this season, he has more often than not entered the game out of the bullpen.
Miner also took part in the home-run derby on Monday night, but was unable to advance out of the first round.
Salyards has appeared in 12 games, operating 11 times in relief.
Tucker and Stohr are second and third in the Lewis division in ERA, with a 2.64 mark for Tucker and 2.84 for Stohr.
Tucker has been a strikeout machine as he leads the division and entire league in strikeouts with 67. Stohr has impressive swing-and-miss pitches as well and he’s second in the division in strikeouts, but trails his teammate by a decent margin with 49 punchouts.
Miner has a 3.47 ERA with 41 strikeouts over 36 ⅓ innings of work and Salyards has a 3.79 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 40 ⅓ innings. Both of them have two saves on the season.
The next best team in terms of representation at the All-Star game in the division were the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs, who sit in first place in the Lewis division with seven selections.
The Sabre Dogs won the first half of the season in the division at 22-9, securing their spot in the playoffs beginning on Aug. 9.
Souris Valley are 11-6 in the second half of the season and are at the top of the division. If they finish in first place again, the playoff berth for the top team in the division for the second half would go to the second place team. Currently, the other five teams in the division are separated by three games.
The Big Sticks are 8-8 so far in the second half, just a half game behind the Mining City Tommyknockers at 9-8. They’ll meet seven more times, all in a row between July 26 and Aug. 1, before the season concludes on Aug. 7.
Badlands will be back in action for their final playoff push on the road against the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks on Thursday, July 22.