Over the first three innings between Badlands and Casper, the pitchers controlled the pace.
Big Sticks starter Roman Oliu faced the minimum through the first three innings, while Casper thrower Tannar Galey saw no more than five batters.
Oliu largely kept pace when Galey ran into trouble in the fifth. Going into the inning, the Horseheads held a 2-1 lead, but Galey allowed three runs. From there, the Badlands bats got hot, eventually winning 10-4 over Casper on Wednesday, June 13 at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
"Roman was electric. He was working ahead," Badlands head coach Hayden Pewitt said. "I thought early he tried to strike a few guys out with a little more bite on his fastball and he was overthrowing a bit, but overall, he was unreal. He got ahead of almost all the batters."
Oliu faltered a bit in the fourth when he allowed two runs to score off a double from Brady Van Hook, but got right back in it, ending the inning with a strikeout.
Galey couldn't recover the same way. He followed a lead-off walk in the fifth with a strikeout, but later walked designated hitter Jake Thurber to push in a run.
With the game then tied at two, second baseman Wyatt Setian got a piece of the baseball. It bobbled halfway down the third base line as he reached first and a run came in to give the Big Sticks the 3-2 lead.
Kobe Stoner took over on the mound for Casper.
"The last outing I think (Galey) got 81 pitches in three innings," Casper head coach Jason Carbonneau said. "I just told him, 'stay low, pound the zone at the knee, you'll be fine.' Towards the end, you could tell he was getting tired. That's what it was. He ended up with 104 pitches."
Stoner threw the rest of the fifth and into the sixth, but Jesse Carr relieved him after he too struggled.
"(Stoner) just came in with us on Monday," Carbonneau said. "He hasn't thrown all year. He was a redshirt. So that was his first outing. I was impressed ... he got nervous probably."
Stoner struck out one batter while walking three over an inning pitched.
Oliu, who threw a complete game a week earlier in the Badlands 6-5 win over Souris Valley, left the game after 6 ⅓ innings.
"We got him up to 95 pitches and he begged to go back in the game," Pewitt said. "When he's got the ball it's hard to take it out of his hands because he's been so pivotal for us. He showed what he had tonight and I think he's one of the better arms in the league."
The Albany State (Ga.) player struck out nine batters, allowing a pair of hits and two walks.
"Today my fastball was working really well," Oliu said. "I just picked up the slider this past season. It's been working really well. I've been starting to throw hard and it moves a lot. That's my strikeout pitch."
Badlands (12-5) scored three more in the sixth and the eighth to stretch the lead. Thurber, who leads the league with a .417 batting average, went 1-for-3 on the night, driving in three runs. Setian went 1-for-4, adding to his league-high total of 23 RBIs. Thurber follows with 22.
"I feel like every rally this year as started with either Thurber, Setian, (Gabe) Knowles, those type of guys," Pewitt said. "They've got us going really well and other guys have fed off those guys."
The teams have split the series so far, with Casper (6-12) winning 15-6 on Tuesday. They will faceoff in the rubber match on Thursday.
"We got to score in the first three innings for the first time in a week. That's our goal," Pewitt said. "We really got to get going early and bring our focus a little earlier in the game."
Badlands Big Sticks 10, Casper Horseheads 2
CHH 000 200 020 - 4 4 4
BBS 100 033 03X - 10 8 2
CHH: Tanner Galey (4.2), Kobe Stoner (1), Jesse Carr (2.1) and Andrew Garcia. BBS: Roman Oliu (6.1), Cort Dietrich (1.2), Kaleb Binstock (1) and Brayden Olson
W-Oliu. L-Galey. HR-None.
Highlights: CHH, Garcia 2-4, RBI, R; Brady Van Hook 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Galey 4.2 IP, 4 R (3 ER), 2 H, 5 BB, 3 K. BBS, Auggie Francis, 1-2, 3B, RBI, 2 BB, 2 R; Jake Thurber 1-3, 3 RBI, BB, R; Wyatt Setian 1-4, 2 RBI; Chasen Roulhac 1-3, 3 R; Gabe Knowles 1-5; Brayden Olson 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI; Drew Staley 2-4, 1 R; Oliu 6.1 IP, 2 R (2 ER), 2 H, 2 BB, 9 K; Cort Dietrich 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 2 K; Kaleb Binstock 1 IP, 2 K.