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Big Sticks split series with Hot Shots

For the first time in a while, the Badlands Big Sticks won handily. On Saturday, in the first of two games against Hub City, the Big Sticks used two big innings to propel them to a 13-4 victory.

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Big Sticks outfielder Auggie Francis slides in under the throw to steal second against the Hot Shots on Saturday, June 23 at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

For the first time in a while, the Badlands Big Sticks won handily. On Saturday, in the first of two games against Hub City, the Big Sticks used two big innings to propel them to a 13-4 victory.

Things went a little different in Game 2 when a grand slam from Jesse Spangler helped the Hot Shots to a 8-3 win on Sunday, June 24 at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.

While the potential storms never showed up on Sunday, neither did the Big Sticks bats as they were shut out through seven innings.

"Anybody can beat anybody on any given day," Badlands head coach Hayden Pewitt said. "That's why we play so many games. We just gotta ride the storm and weather it and see how that goes from there."

The Hot Shots pitchers shut down the Badlands offense, seeing the minimum in five of the nine innings.

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"I thought we chased a lot of curveballs down," Pewitt said. "From the start we were chasing curveballs like it was nothing. I think that was the big difference. I think he threw 12 curveballs through the first 17 pitches of the game and we're chasing it, getting down in counts. We weren't seeing any fastballs."

Starting pitcher Michael Ortega is just a rising freshman headed to the University of Hawaii-Hilo. He allowed six hits while striking out four over 4 ⅓ innings.

"Michael, he's young. He just graduated high school," Hub City head coach Jacob Jarreau said. "He's very competitive. He was able to command all of his pitches today. He kept them off balance with the breaking ball."

Big Sticks starting pitcher Gabe Lizarraga kept Hub City off the board for three innings, striking out four. In the fourth, Ty Denzer showed the Hot Shots had Lizarraga figured out, getting his team on the board with a solo home run. A hit from Colton Cox scored one more before the Big Sticks retired the side.

In the sixth, Cort Dietrich relieved Lizarraga with the bases loaded, but Spangler sent the 2-1 pitch out of the park for a grand slam.

Hub City designated hitter Willie Lajoie singled in the eighth, tacking on to his 17 game hit streak.

"He's just very professional about everything he does. He's the best hitter in the league in my opinion," Jarreau said. "Very disciplined. He takes what the pitchers give him. Especially that last at-bat, the shift, everyone is on the left side of the field, he just hits a nice ground ball over there. He's very mature, very smart. He trusts his hands."

Right fielder Aaron Fritts got the Big Sticks on the board in the eighth with a three-run shot over center field.

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"We were struggling to get hits and connect hits together and get some runs" Big Sticks outfielder Christian Padilla said. "That jump started us a little at the end."

Just a day earlier, home runs scored the first seven runs of the game, including a two-run home run from Fritts in the third to give the Big Sticks a 4-3 lead.

Jake Thurber hit a homer in the bottom of the first to score two, following a three-run shot from Hot Shot Hunter Koep in the top of the inning.

Following Fritts' homer, Thurber, Kaleb Binstock and Padilla all batted in runs, contributing to a five-run inning.

A two-RBI single from third baseman Drew Staley scored two of four runs in the fourth inning.

While home runs have benefited the team, Pewitt blieves long shots over the fence to be a detriment as well.

"Offense is kind of struggling, right now. I think we're struggling to see pitches. I think we're trying to do a little too much. I think that has something to do with being at this ballpark," Pewitt said. "Small yard, we get a little long with our swings, try to get the ball in the air a little too much, which I don't mind guys getting the ball in the air, but when we're doing this and striking out so much I think we need to make an adjustment.

The Badland boys have less than 24 hours before they can make adjustments and try a new approach against Spearfish which they face on Monday, at 6:35 p.m.

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Hub City Hot Shots 8, Badlands Big Sticks 3

HCH 000 205 100 - 8 10 0

BBS 000 000 030 - 3 8 0

Michael Ortega (4.1), Noah Soltero (3.2), Hunter Koep (1) and Alex Elizondo. Gabe Lizarraga (5.2), Cort Dietrich (1.1), Chasen Roulhac (2) and Wyatt Setian.

W-Ortega. L-Lizarraga. HR-HCH, Jesse Spangler, Ty Denzer. BBS, Aaron Fritts.

Highlights: HCH, D Rodriguez 2-5, 2 R; J Jacome 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI; Ortega 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 K. BBS, Drew Staley 2-4; Christian Padilla 2-3, 1 R; Fritts 1-4, HR, 1 R, 3 RBI; Chasen Roulhac 1-3, 1 R, 2 IP, 3 H; Jake Thurber 1-3; Karson BAcker 1-2; Lizarraga 5.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R (6 ER), 4 BB, 5 K; Dietrich 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB.

Badlands Big Sticks 13, Hub City Hot Shots 4

HCH 300 100 000 - 4 9 2

BBS 205 401 01X - 13 18 0

Anthony Reese (3), Brady Mello (4.1), Jesse Spangler (0.2) and Nick Emanuel. Matt Graser (7), Joe Smith (2) and Ben Thoma.

W-Graser. L-Reese. HR-HCH, Hunter Koep. BBS, Aaron Fritts, Jake Thurber, Christian Padilla.

Highlights: A Shelley 2-4, 1 R; Koep 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI; Reese 3 IP, 9 H, 10 R (8 ER), 2 BB, 1 K. Fritts 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI; Thurber 3-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI; Kaleb Binstock 3-5, 2 R, 1 RBI; Padilla 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI; Drew Staley 2-4, 2 RBI; Auggie Francis 2-4, 3 R; Chasen Roulhac 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI; Eli Jung 1-1; Graser 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 1 K; Smith 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K.

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