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Big hits from Thurber, Francis put Big Sticks over Horseheads

Jake Thurber is a pitcher's nightmare. At 6-foot-4, the Badlands first baseman looms over the plate and can hit just about anything, earning a base knock in 15 of 18 games played this season. On Thursday, Thurber went 2-for-3, including a solo ho...

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Big Sticks first baseman Jake Thurber hit a home run against Casper on Thursday, June 14 at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

Jake Thurber is a pitcher's nightmare.

At 6-foot-4, the Badlands first baseman looms over the plate and can hit just about anything, earning a base knock in 15 of 18 games played this season.

On Thursday, Thurber went 2-for-3, including a solo home run, aiding in the Big Sticks 16-10 win over Casper on June 14 at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.

"We competed hard from the beginning which is what we needed to do," said Big Sticks head coach Hayden Pewitt, who previously expressed frustration in his teams starts over the past week.

The Big Sticks (13-5) scored in all but the second and eighth innings, winning the series over Casper (6-13) 2-1.

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An RBI triple from Thurber in the third tied the game at four after a grand slam from Dalton Mauldin gave the Horseheads a one run lead in the second.

Later, Thurber cushioned the lead with a solo home run in the fifth inning to make it 8-5.

Batting in the number three spot, he's become one of the most consistent hitters on the team.

"I'm just looking for a good pitch to hit," Thurber said of his success at the plate.

Although, he did admit a changeup will trick him more often than most pitches.

Mauldin's grand slam in the second could have given his team momentum, but Casper struggled to score after that, adding one run in the fifth and sixth innings. In the final frame, Josh Overstreet cleared the bases with the second grand slam of the game.

"We were just taking advantage, especially with the wind today, just get the ball up there. With the wind blowing out, just get it up there," Casper head coach Jason Carbonneau said. "Normally they're fly balls."

The Big Sticks outscored the Horseheads, but only outhit them 14-13. The biggest difference, was Casper missing out on timely hitting. Flaws on defense didn't help either.

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"We got to stop making errors, we got to stop walking guys, we got to stop hitting batters," Carbonneau said. "That's what's got to stop."

The Casper pitching staff walked nine batters, while Badlands throwers walked four.

Thurber wasn't alone in his success, as Auggie Francis, who bats ahead of him, went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBIs. He has a hit in all but two games this summer.

"I'm just trying to find a good pitch to hit and summer ball is a good time to do that," Francis said. "You get a lot of games in, a lot of (at-bats), so there's things to work on, but it's nice to have success."

With one on Thursday, he now has a team-high five triples, as well as three stolen bases on the summer. In his junior season at New Mexico Highlands, Francis had a team-high 12 stolen bases.

On the other side of the ball, Francis uses his fast feet to cover ground in center field, while Thurber uses his length to pull plays at first or his heavy hitting as designated hitter.

"Those are our oldest guys. They're our oldest hitters," Pewitt said. "There 21, 22 years old. They've been around the block. They don't swing at bad pitches. They're consistent at every at bat."

Francis quickly became a Big Sticks fan favorite, with his at-bats bringing on cheers of "Auggie, Auggie, Auggie! Oi, Oi, Oi!"

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"It's not bad. It's fun," Francis said of the attention. "I like the energy the fans give. It's good to see support out here."

Badlands Big Sticks 16, Casper Horseheads 10

CHH 040 011 004 - 10 13 6

BBS 302 223 40X - 16 14 1

Stirling Strong (5), James Colyer (1.2), Connor Lowrie (1.1) and Cody Nisbet. Connor Grytdal (4.1), Kaleb Binstock (2.2), Joe Smith (2) and Ben Thoma.

W-Grytdal. L-Strong. HR-CHH, Dalton Mauldin, Lowrie, Josh Overstreet. BBS, Jake Thurber, Gabe Knowles.

Highlights: CHH, Mauldin 3-6, HR, 1 R, 4 RBI; Overstreet 2-3, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI; Strong 5 IP, 10 H, 9 R (9 ER), 3 BB, 6 K. BBS, Auggie Francis 3-5, 3B, 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI; Jake Thurber 2-3, HR, 3B, 4 R, 2 RBI; Gabe Knowles 2-3, HR, 1 R, 3 RBI; Drew Staley 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Aaron Fritts 3-5, 2 R; Ben Thoma 1-4, 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI; Kaleb Binstock 1-5, 2B, 1 R; Grytdal, 4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 5 K; Binstock 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 6 K; Smith 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 2 K.

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Casper's Dalton Mauldin is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam against the Badlands Big Sticks on Thursday, June 14 at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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