Pitching woes and lack of offense see Big Sticks take first home loss in 8-1 defeat 

“We were throwing a lot of pitches elevated in the zone and they made us pay for mistakes,” said Cam Johnson, Big Sticks head coach.

A swing and a miss for a Big Sticks player Jake Thilges. Badlands Big Sticks lose to a Nebraskaland division team, the Pioneers on Tuesday, June 7.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Typically hot bats were cold for the Badlands Big Sticks (8-2) on Tuesday, losing for the first time at home.

Launching their three-game series against Western Nebraska Pioneers at the Dakota Community Bank and Trust ballpark, the Big Sticks struggled early and often with the Pioneers outhitting the Big Sticks 15-8.

On the mound, The Big Sticks were often successful early in the count only to fall behind to hitters known for waiting on the fastball in the zone. Once the Pioneers got ahead in counts they became lights out as hitters, often courtesy of breaking pitches that weren't quite breaking.

The Big Sticks defense were inundated by the Pioneers consistent base hitting, a deluge that garnered Western Nebraska three multiple run innings on the night.

“The Pioneers came out early and swung the bat really well. Hats off to them,” Cam Johnson, Big Sticks head coach, said. “We were throwing a lot of pitches elevated in the zone and they made us pay for mistakes.”


The Big Sticks had their sole run come in the bottom of the second as left-hand batter Carson Lundmark hit a two-bagger that brought home second baseman Jack Luster. Lundmark's remarkable early season features a prominent RBI count of 10 in an equal number of games.

Carson Lundmark hits a stand up double for Big Sticks solo RBI against the Pioneers on Tuesday, June 7.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Starting pitcher Sam Marhefke managed to work through early struggles with manageable results solely relying on guile as his control seemingly handcuffed him as the game continued. Facing a fearsome Pioneers lineup that has scored at a better clip of runs per game than they did last year, Marhefke never found the key.

Falling into the hole, he allowed nine hits and four runs. The first two earned runs coming in the third in a bases loaded situation with no outs — Western Nebraska would take a 2-1 lead.

Marhefke would be pulled after some chin music and pushbacks were followed by the first two faced batters scored hits in the fifth.

Local favorite Derrick Calvillo had 12 putouts on the night from the first base position, including a solo double play that kept a base loaded situation from garnering any runs.

Dickinson State local Kobe Krenz came out of the bullpen for two innings, and the Blue Hawk was solid — retiring two and assisting two force outs at first.

Kobe Krenz on the mound coming in as relief on Tuesday, June 7.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“We got a lot of games to play and based on the score I knew we had to do something different and try to get more offensive. Bring Carson in to pitch and we could get another hitter in the lineup,” Johnson said. “It was not a tough decision, I was just looking out for his(Krenz) health too because that is what is most important at the end of the day.”

The series continues at home for the Big Sticks on Wednesday, where they will seek to bounce back — something Johnson says he expects after an otherwise off night performance.


“I told them that, ’Once you leave the locker room, everything is forgotten and just get back to pitch one and let's come out and play tomorrow,’” said Johnson.

Related Topics: BASEBALL
Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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