Big hits break up battles: Badlands comes out on top in pair of close contests with Spearfish
After three scoreless and relatively short innings, the Spearfish Sasquatch scored a run in the fourth. The lead didn't last long though, as an awkward but effective infield hit from Badlands Big Sticks batter Christian Padilla scored Kaleb Binst...
After three scoreless and relatively short innings, the Spearfish Sasquatch scored a run in the fourth. The lead didn't last long though, as an awkward but effective infield hit from Badlands Big Sticks batter Christian Padilla scored Kaleb Binstock to tie the game at one.
With the bases loaded, Big Sticks center fielder Auggie Francis sent a 2-0 pitch far over the fence. The grand slam was more than enough to help the Badlands boys earn the 6-2 victory on Tuesday, June 26, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
"I think the fact that Auggie hit it was pretty good," shortstop Wyatt Setian said. "It gets everyone going. It's good. We do our job and get on base and someone's going to clutch up and get the job done."
Spearfish added one more with a solo home run off the bat of Aaron Funk, but for the second game in a row, the Sasquatch weren't the ones to finish it off for the win. The day before they dropped a 7-4 contest to the Big Sticks.
"Yesterday, both teams played really well. Unfortunately we didn't come out on top in that one, but I was proud of our guys, the way they battled," Spearfish head coach Ryan Wright said. "We got some runners on, got some opportunities to get some hits and score some runs and we just didn't."
The day before, the Big Sticks snagged an early 4-0 lead with two runs in each of the first and second innings.
First, Francis scored on a RBI double from second baseman Chasen "Chi Chi" Roulhac, who went on to score off a ground out from right fielder Aaron Fritts.
A leadoff home run from first baseman Kaleb Binstock and an RBI single from third baseman Drew Staley doubled the advantage in the second.
Over the next two innings the Sasquatch tied the game at four, but for the next three innings there were just three hits between the two teams.
Knowing that the next run could be the winning one, the Badlands bullpen erupted when ball four passed by Fritts.
Although a free base is somewhat exciting, they really cheered because he walked with the bases loaded, scoring Staley from third to break the tie. A 2-RBI single from catcher Brayden Olson followed, sealing the win.
"The thing I like about us is if we get punched in the mouth, we're going to punch back a little harder every time," Badlands head coach Hayden Pewitt said of his team's offense. "But the problem with that is, if we don't get punched in the mouth then we usually don't score."
While timely hitting put runs on the board, an efficient defense kept runs off it.
The Badlands Big Sticks (18-11) infield turned two double plays in Monday's win and one in Tuesday's victory.
The first in game one was pivotal, as an RBI single from AJ Davis had just put the Sasquatch (11-15) on the board, putting two men on base for the No. 3 batter Anthony Rodriguez.
Setian, Roulhac and Binstock combined to stop the momentum and end the inning.
"I think it's all Chi Chi to be honest with you," Pewitt said. "Chi Chi spins it as well as anybody. At the bag he's as good as anybody. His hands never go away. His hands don't slump. That's why he's in the lineup every single day."
Albeit in a slightly different order, the same three players turned the double play in the first inning of the game Tuesday.
"I haven't really played with Wyatt too much," Roulhac said. "But the chemistry is there for sure. We got to give credit to our pitchers too. We're just on the back end of it. We just clean it up."
In front of the defense, the Badlands bullpen showed few signs distress over the two games.
Ahead of Dakota Weindel coming in for relief in the fourth, Monday starting thrower Nick Jennings walked three straight batters and allowed a bases clearing double from Daniel Freiburger.
Weindel came in to throw four smooth innings, allowing two hits while striking out two before Binstock threw the final two innings.
"Their bullpen came in and the guy who actually threw against us (Weindel) was one of my own guys from the spring season ( at MSU-Billings)," Wright said. "He kept us off balance. He throws four pitches for strikes and it just took us a while to adjust. Then we finally did and they brought in Binstock in the end."
On Monday, the Big Sticks used just two pitchers in Matt Henckel and Roman Oliu. While the Sasquatch saw four innings from Henckel and five from Oliu, they couldn't figure out the throwers who combined for eight K's. Henckel no-hit Spearfish into the fourth.
"Henckel, he's a legitimate Division I arm," Pewitt said. "He's on a pitch count, which is why he didn't go back out. His stuff is the best in the league. His changeup, good gosh, every changeup he threw was a swing-and-a-miss tonight."
While the all-around complete games were riddled with highlights, Setian said the end result was the most satisfying.
"Winning. We're finally getting back on the winning end of things," he said.
The two teams will finish the series on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m.
Badlands Big Sticks 6, Spearfish Sasquatch 2
SPS 000 101 000 - 2 5 1
BBS 000 600 00X - 6 8 2
Steven Dennis (5), Riley McSherry (2.2), Walker Armstrong (0.1) and Tom Imholte. Matt Henckel (4), Roman Oliu (5) and Ben Thoma
W-henckel. L-Dennis. HR-SPS, Aaron Funk. BBS, Auggie Francis.
Highlights: SPS, Funk 2-4, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI; Dennis 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 6 K. BBS, Jake Thurber 2-4; Drew Staley 2-4, 1 R; Francis 1-2, HR, 1 R, 4 RBI; Wyatt Setian 1-2, 2B, 1 R; Kaleb Binstock 1-3, 1 R; Aaron Fritts 1-3, 1 RBI; Henckel 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 4 K; Oliu 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 4 K.
Badlands Big Sticks 7, Spearfish Sasquatch 4
SPS 001 300 000 - 4 7 2
BBS 220 000 30X - 7 11 0
Dylan Schneider (5.1), Drake Berman (1), Greg Casper (1), Keegan Kast (0.2) and Hayden Hastings. Nick Jennings (3), Dakota Weindel (4), Kaleb Binstock (2) and Brayden Olson.
W-Weindel. L-Berman. HR-BBS, Binstock.
Highlights: SPS, Daniel Freiburger 1-4, 2B, 3 RBI; AJ Davis 1-3, 1 RBI; Schneider 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 2K. BBS, Chasen Roulhac 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI; Drew Staley 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI; Christian Padilla 1-4, 2B; Auggie Francis 1-3,2 R; Jake Thurber 1-4; Aaron Fritts 1-3, 2 RBI; Wyatt Setian 1-3,1 R; Kaleb Binstock 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 IP, 5 K; Jennings 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 5 BB, 1 K; Weindel 4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K.