Stafford grand slam in Big Sticks home win

Big Sticks hit three home runs first game back against Tommyknockers.

Travis Ray Jr. tightly press against the second plate before the infielder could tag him. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

Badlands Big Sticks and Mining City Tommyknockers had their first outing of the season yesterday; it was full of emotions and runs. The two Clark division teams' encounter showed that the old saying is true — once things are in motion, it's a challenge to bring them to a stop.

The Big Sticks returned home from Spearfish bringing along two Ws to their streak, with no intention of slowing down. The home team clutch hits gave them the advantage over their opponents in their 11-6 victory.

In the first, It would be a lead off home run from Joe Osborn that would ignite the Badlands heat. The Tommyknockers would respond at the top of the second with two runs of their own — however, the lead would not last.

At the bottom with two putouts on the board, Travis Ray Jr. would grab a run, courtesy of Matt Olive’s single. With another single and a walk, bases would become loaded for Ryan Stafford to knock it long and passed the fence for a grand slam bringing the score to 6-3.


Ryan Stafford is greeted at home plate after bitting a grand slam in the third. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

“(Stafford) is a workhorse, he has done a great job,” head coach Billy Tomblin said. “The kid is a competitor, works hard, and shows up everyday. I love coaching him and I love him being part of this program.”

In the third and fourth both teams defense would settle in with only one hit in each inning, both for Mining City.

At the top of the fifth it looked that the Big Sticks may hold their lead, but a four-run rally brought the Tommyknockers back into a tied game. Starting with Hartfield grabbing an RBI single from a centered line drive. Then an error from Angel De La Cruz that would allow a run and batter Justin Greene to first base, who would also score the final run of the inning.

In the sixth Joe Harris was relieved by Pat Miner to shut it down. Miner has a 2.74 ERA playing six games, starting two. Miner's arm came warm, immediately delivering a strikeout to the first batter and not allowing a single hit in the remaining innings.

In the fifth and sixth, the Big Sticks would collect an RBI in each from Ray and then Stafford.

At the bottom of the eighth, the inning’s lead hitter Olive grabbed a homer to further their lead. Two putouts would follow but the Big Sticks would remain aggressive and vigilant. Osborn moved from first to third off of two wild pitches. Carson Lundmark would bring Osborn home to hold his place at the top of the team’s leaderboard for most RBIs with 26. He is in a three-way tie for second for most RBIs in the league, at the very top is Souris Valley’s Beau Brewer with 41.

Cruz's RBI single would insure Lundmark home for the final run of the evening.


Carson Lundmark sprints towards home to grab the final run of the game. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

After three quick putouts in the ninth, The Badlands were on the field with game one behind them — they chug along carrying the momentum and the same “come ready to work” mindset.

“The reality is that every streak comes to an end at some point so it's going to be how we bounce back whenever that does come,” Tomblin said.

The two sides will meet again today, June 26 at 6:05pm.

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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