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Long ball not enough to lift Badlands over Mining City

With just over a week remaining in the Expedition League season, Big Sticks and Mining City fight for a playoff spot.

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Wyatt Setian is greeted by his teammate Angel De La Cruz (24) after his two-run home run in the second inning. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

Both the Big Sticks and the Tommyknockers find themselves in the thick of a playoff push with just over a week to go. Thursday night the two teams met in Dickinson for the fourth game in a row as Badlands held a one game advantage over Mining City in the Lewis division for a playoff spot.

The Tommyknockers made sure the Big Sticks would not widen the gap in any way as they took Thursday night’s contest 14-7 to remain tied with Badlands in the second half of the season.

Mining City (30-26) doubled up their opponent in runs, 14-7, and hits, 16-8, as their offense at times seemed unstoppable.

After a scoreless first inning, Badlands (31-24) starting pitcher Joe Harris found himself in trouble with the bases loaded in the second. The Tommyknockers would make him pay as Steven Strachan launched a grand slam as Mining City took a 4-0 lead.

The momentum didn’t stay in their favor for too long, as Wyatt Setian answered with a long ball of his own in the bottom of the second, his fifth of the season, to cut into the deficit 4-2.

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It was 4-3 in the top of the fifth when Mining City began to pull away. Five hits resulted in five runs during the inning as they extended their lead 9-3. It was 11-3 going into the bottom of the sixth when Travis Ray Jr provided some fireworks to try and ignite a comeback.

This time the bases were loaded for the hosts as the Big Sticks designated hitter on the night stepped up to the plate.

On the third pitch of the at-bat, he sent one back to deep center and admired his knock as it cleared the wall to straightaway center as he hit the second grand slam of the night as Badlands drew closer 11-7.

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The Big Sticks bench celebrates after Travis Ray Jr.'s grand slam. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

Unfortunately for the hosts it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback as they wouldn’t score another run in the game.

The Tommyknockers put up three more runs across the final three innings as they took the fourth game of seven in a row against the Big Sticks. The series is tied 2-2 as they go to Butte, Montana for the final three games.

Only Angel De La Cruz had multiple hits on the night with two, while Setian and Ray Jr. accounted for all of the runs from their home-runs. Red-hot hitter Derek Gellos, who has 13 hits and RBI over his last seven games, was held hitless in his four at-bats.

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Harris on the mound allowed a season-high nine runs in his five innings of work.

While the Big Sticks and Tommyknockers remain deadlocked in the second spot in the division at 14-11, the Canyon County Spuds sit a half game behind at 14-12 and have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games. Souris Valley remains atop the division at 17-8.

After the trip to Montana this weekend, Badlands will face the Spuds five times in a row to finish the season.

Related Topics: BASEBALL
Race Archibald is a former sports reporter with The Dickinson Press.
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