Going into Monday's contest against the Fremont Moo, Bryson Ford was riding a seven-game hitting streak.
The designated hitter left no question whether he would continue that tear, as he hit a two-run home run to put the Big Sticks up 2-1 in the bottom of the first. Leading off the seventh, he hit another home run, helping Badlands to a 12-5 win over the Moo on Monday, June 17, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
Ford finished the night 3-for-3 with three runs, three RBIs and drew two walks.
"In baseball, I feel like it's day-to-day," Ford said in spite his eight-game hitting streak. "One day we score a lot of runs and hit well, another day we're struggling. It's just about finding a way to grind it out even if you're not doing well and just finding a way to get on."
A full team effort steered Badlands to victory, something head coach Hayden Pewitt hopes to see more of.
"Everybody was clicking, Ford obviously. He's a hell of an athlete. He makes quick adjustments," Pewitt said. "Everyone else, I think everybody had a hit. It was a full-team effort. It's a pretty deep lineup, so it's tough. They were short on arms tonight with the long weekend. One through nine we got juice, one through nine we guys that can put the ball in play and it's fun to watch."
For the 8-13 Fremont Moo, the stakes are high in a game against Badlands (19-5), as the Moo were 7 ½ games back in the Lewis Division standings coming into Monday's game. The loss was the fourth straight for Fremont.
Down 7-2 going into the seventh, the Bovine boys tacked on a run in each of the final three frames, but the Badlands bats had more power.
First baseman Conner VanCleave and left fielder Kaimana Souza Paaluhi both sent the ball to greener pastures on the other side of the outfield fence.
In the fourth, the Moo turned two quick outs and were on track to serve Badlands its third straight zero on the scoreboard, while keeping the contest tied at two. However, they made a grade-A mistake, allowing shortstop Anthony Tulimero to reach on a butchered throw to first.
Tulimero stole second while catcher Ben Thoma ran up a 2-2 count from starter Josh Siefert. Thoma singled to bring Tulimero home, and No. 9 hitter Nathan Sanders used a double to plate Thoma and put the Big Sticks up 4-2.
"We didn't have a lot of arms, so I think we just ran out of arms against a good offensive club," Fremont head coach Shea Bennet said. "We're just trying to get through the road trip with what we have and take it game-by-game."
A pair of moot calls generated some beef between Fremont head coach Shea Bennet and the umpires in the sixth inning.
With two outs and Luke White at first after drawing a walk, catcher Omar Veloz hit a ground ball between first and second. As the ball rolled into shallow right, the infield argued the ball had grazed White as he ran to second. To Bennett's dismay, the ump agreed, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, second baseman Ryan Walstad was hit by a pitch, putting a runner on for Ford with two outs.
Ford milked the at-bat, taking a strike and a ball before fouling off three pitches. On the third, Walstad took off for second. Following the throw from Veloz to shortstop Kanin Dodge, the infield umpire began to motion out, but switched to the safe motion.
Dodge was in an uproar, but fortunately for Fremont, he was not ejected. As leader of the herd, Bennett argued the decision and eventually, Walstad was called out, ending the inning.
"In baseball, one play can always change how the game is going to be played," Bennett said. "Whether it affected the outcome, I don't really know. Those were definitely some weird plays. I don't know what happened."
Badlands Big Sticks 12, Fremont 5
FRM 101 000 111 - 5 11 4
BBS 200 221 32X - 12 14 2
FRM, Josh Seifert (6), Luke White (1), Pete Carlson (1) and Omar Veloz. BBS, Tyler Chipman (6.2), Jack Zalasky (0.1), Cort Dietrich (1), Dallas Bryan (1) and Ben Thoma.
W-Chipman. L-Siefert. HR-FRM, Dillion Sears. BBS, Bryson Ford 2, Conner VanCleave, Kaimana Souza Paaluhi.
Highlights: Luke White 1-3, 2B, R, 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB; Sears 1-4, HR, R, RBI; Siefert 6 IP, 8 H, 7 R (5 ER), 2 BB, 6 K. BBS, Ford 3-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI; VanCleave 3-5, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI; Souza Paaluhi 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI; Ben Thoma 2-4, R, 3 RBI; Nathan Sanders 2-4, 2B, RBI; Anthony Tulimero 2-4, 2B, 3 R; Mason Schwellenbach 1-4, R; Chipman 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 4 K; Dietrich 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER); Bryan 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER).