Big Sticks late-game turn around falls short against Pioneers
The Badlands Big Sticks scored seven runs in the seventh inning against the Western Nebraska Pioneers, but it wasn't enough to snatch the win at home on June 9.
DICKINSON — In their second of three home games against the Western Nebraska Pioneers, the Badlands Big Sticks were defeated 14-9. The loss brings the season record to 8-3 for the Big Sticks fans who entered bellowing a Bronx cheer and left the stands with their heads hung low.
The Sticks were down by a run early in the game and swung wildly to catch up as the Pioneers jumped to a lights-out 8-0 lead in the third. Throughout the night, Big Sticks coach Cam Johnson went fishing for answers, going to the bullpen five times in an effort to lock in the right pitcher to salvage the game.
Logan Frafomeni toed the rubber first and struggled to find a groove for 3, allowing the Pioneers 8 hits and 8 runs before finishing his performance with a 4.50 ERA.
Daniel Rivera and Matt Ramstead would take their chances on the hill next, each pitching for one and combining for 1 run, 3 walks. Rivera and Ramstead slowed the Pioneers' offensive output.
Compared to the Sticks 7 hits, the Pioneers racked up 11 and played a clean, error-free game. The Sticks however, struggled with 4 errors coming in the match-up.
“We walked too many guys tonight and made too many errors,” Johnson said. “Things happen and you can’t be perfect but we have an expectation to be great. In order to do that we have to take care of the baseball. It won’t change overnight, it’s more of a mindset thing.”
In the fourth, the Sticks experienced their first twang of hope thanks to a hit by Carson Lundmark that allowed Alex Thurston to zip across the bags to wake up the scorekeeper by bringing the score to 9-1.
Throughout the night, the pitching line-up struggled with brushbacks, gopher balls and some close-call beanballs that allowed the Pioneers full advantage of easy walks. Grayson Gifford pitched for two mid-game, allowing the Pioneers 3 runs and a hit, but would leave the mound with 2 K’s and a 4.50 ERA.
The umpires’ discussed a controversial play in the top of the sixth, where they called a Pioneers batter safe, before reversing their call and moving the runners back with a dead ball call.
In the seventh, the Sticks made a jaw-dropping rally worthy of their talent and mustered a sparky comeback. Fans shot up out of their seats to get a better look at the action as with bases loaded, Derrick Calvillo would smash a three-run double that racked up desperately needed points for the Sticks.
Calvillo was a rock star all night garnering 3 RBI’s, a hit and a run. Quade Peters, Jack Luster, Cory Brownson and Cooper Dulich each brought in runs for the Sticks in an inning that witnessed seven runs.
First baseman Jake Thilges was another a stand-out player of the night with a .318 percent batting average, 2 hits and an RBI — adding 2 dingers to his 9 run career total.
Eric Kessler was the Sticks fireman for the night, allowing only 2 hits and 2 runs to 2 walks, but shut the Pioneers down with 4 K’s. At the top of the ninth he slipped a pitch a bit too wide, forcing the catcher out of his squat to scurry after it. The passed ball opened the door for the Pioneers to advance bases.
Kessler would close the night with a 2.57 ERA.
“Kessler was awesome and he left it all out on the line for us today,” Johnson said. “Grifford and our pitchers that came in kept the game where it was at to give us a chance to win. We come out free swinging and be us. That’s never going to change.”
The Big Sticks will take on the Pioneers for their third and final game of the at-home series June 9, before traveling to Moeller field in Nebraska to take on the Fremont Moo June 10.