Divisional play injury hampers Big Sticks in game two loss
“You don't prepare for that kind of stuff… I just hope Jonathan is alright. He obviously has a future outside of the Big Sticks, so I just hope he is okay...we are all thinking of him,” said Cam Johnson, Big Sticks head coach.
DICKINSON — After five and one-third innings on the mound and with a tied game hanging in the balance, Badland Big Sticks’ starter Sam Marhefke was relieved. His seven strikeouts helped give the Sticks three 1-2-3 innings. Then the unthinkable happened and spurred a momentum shift leading to a game two loss in divisional play.
Relief pitcher Jonathan Lerma took to the mound on Monday night before suddenly suffering an injury that forced the Sticks to go to the bullpen for a cold pitcher. The Spearfish Sasquatch would capitalize on the poor luck and score five runs in the inning to give them the go-ahead run and win 9-6.
“That kind of threw a wrench in our game plan of having another guy ready,” Cam Johnson, Badlands Big Sticks head coach, said. “You don't prepare for that kind of stuff… I just hope Jonathan is alright. He obviously has a future outside of the Big Sticks so I just hope he is okay and he has been awesome for us all summer and we are all thinking of him.”
Going into the Monday game, the Sticks were one win away from clinching the divisional championship after winning game one 7-4 in Spearfish on Sunday.
Game two's first run came courtesy of Sticks’ left fielder Austin Bunn who sailed one over the fence before the team would extend their margin into to a 4-2 lead by the end of the third inning.
The Sasquatch tied it up via a two-run dinger by shortstop Gabe Springer at the top of the fifth. Marhefke, who had started the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, reached his limit in the at-bat by throwing 96 pitches for 62 strikes. His time on the mound had come to an end.
After starting the sixth inning with a hit single, the Sticks went to the bullpen, but with the unfortunate injury a cold Grayson Gifford would receive the nod. Gifford allowed four hits, including two doubles, resulting in five runs.
The Sticks offense responded in the bottom of the inning with a two RBI stand up double via second baseman Alex Urlaub, but it would prove too little to stop the changing tides.
The rest of the game would feature a battle between defenses.
“As a team, playoff baseball is never easy, it's not going to come easy and teams are not just going to roll over and give you wins,” Johnson said. “You have to take every pitch in every inning. Thankful we get to come out and play one more here at least and so I told them, ‘short memory. If you had a good day or a bad day, it doesn't matter. We got to come out and perform tomorrow.'”