Opening night jitters: Dickinson mistakes costly against powerful Omaha Burke Black squad
For the second consecutive season, the Dickinson Roughriders played in the nightcap as host during the opening day of the Central Plains Regional Tournament.
However, compared to the 2017 team, the Roughriders enter the tournament this season as one of the youngest teams. And between the pageantry and bright lights shining down on the Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark, their youth and inexperience showed.
Dickinson pitchers issued 13 walks and hit two batters, while the defense behind them committed four errors. Vaulted by an eight-run second inning, Omaha Burke Black (Neb.) breezed to a 12-1 victory in five innings on Wednesday, August 8.
"I thought it was a possibility that the stage would be a little big for the young group," Dickinson head coach Stephen Greenwood said. "Like I've said all along, it's a learning process and them just being in this tournament is great experience for them; it's invaluable to see where we have to be and what we have to work on to get back to a tournament like by not being a host team. But again, it definitely showed. We didn't get off to the right start and anytime you are at one of these tournaments, there's no room for that."
Roughriders starting pitcher Landon Aman began his night on the hill by delivering five straight pitches out of the strike zone. After Aman allowed his second walk of the inning, Omaha Burke Black had two on and one out with cleanup hitter Josh Dickey stepping to the plate. The Bulldogs outfielder flied out into the glove of Dickinson center fielder Colton Jones. As leadoff batter Tyler Cate took the flyout as an opportunity to tag up, Jones delivered a strike to third base, throwing out a sliding Cate in plenty of time.
Cate made up for the blunder in the top of the second. Shortly after the Bulldogs scored the game's first run on an RBI single from Bobby Jackson, Cate ripped a grounder by diving second baseman Kobe Krenz, driving in two more runs and pushing the lead to 3-0.
"It made me feel great just to help the team. Just trying to do anything I can do," Cate said.
Omaha Burke Black, the Nebraska state champion, continued to rack up runs in the second. A double steal attempt resulted in the road team's fourth run as Connor McElderry reached home plate from third. Jack Lortz took a base on balls before Noah Olson crushed a two-run home run over the right field fence.
Aman issued two more walks before his night was done. Overall, he was charged with eight runs on four hits and seven walks through 1 ⅔ innings of work.
"He wasn't missing terribly, I just think with just a little bit of fine-tuning and it would be a different story," Greenwood said. "I hope he got something out of that start, but give credit to Omaha; they're a classy team, deserved it and were the better team."
The Bulldogs pushed to lead to 12-0 after four runs in the third, giving starting pitcher Alex Wize not only plenty of run support, but coach Scott Hodges the luxury to pull Wize early in hopes of using him later down the line.
Wize allowed a run on three hits and a walk through three innings toeing the rubber.
"We still have work to do, but it was nice to build a little cushion and help us get our starter out a little earlier than maybe what we imagined," Hodges said. "Hopefully, that'll be invaluable come Sunday afternoon. ... He'll be able to come back on Sunday if we make it to that point. We did a good job of hitting the ball and showing a lot of patience at the plate, generating some offense from some walks and squaring a couple of balls up."
The Dickinson bats did show some life in the third when Jaren Hugelen drove in Tristen Brunk with an RBI double into the left center field gap. In the fourth, the Roughriders had two on and one out, but Nathaniel Jilek grounded into a double play.
Dickinson then began the bottom of the fifth with a tribute to its leader. Sam England, who was ruled out for the tournament after suffering a facial fracture during the Class AA state tournament, walked into the batter's box. In uniform and with a bat in hand, England soaked in the cheers from the crowd before being called back into the dugout.
Greenwood was the first to greet England as his teammates and many in the stands gave him a standing ovation.
"It meant a lot. I didn't know I had seen the batter's box or the field for the last time, but coach made sure it wasn't the last time," England said. "It sucks that I'm injured, but you can't be selfish and feel bad for yourself. You have to still cheer for your team. You are still a part of the team, it's not just a one-man crew out here."
Omaha Burke Black (Neb.) 12, Dickinson Roughriders 1 (5)
OBB 084 00X X — 12 7 0
DR 001 00X X — 1 4 4
Alexander Wize (3), Josh Dickey (2) and . Landon Aman (1.2), Isaac Gjerde (0.2), Jaren Hugelen (1.1), Bryant Merry (1.1) and Tristen Brunk.
W—Dickey. L—Aman. HR—OBB, Noah Olson.
Highlights: OBB, Olson 1-1, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI; Tyler Cate 2-2, 1 R, 2 RBI; Cade Dungan 1-2, 3 RBI; Lawrence Jackson 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI; Nolan Opheim 1-3, 1 R; Josh Dickey 1-2, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K; Wize 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K. DR, Jaren Hugelen 1-1, 2B, 1 RBI, 1.1 IP, 2 BB; Tristen Brunk 1-3, 1 R; Kobe Krenz 1-2; Isaac Gjerde 1-2, 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 BB; Aman 1.2 IP, 4 H, 8 R (8 ER), 7 BB, 1 K,1 HR; Merry 1.1 IP, 2 BB.