HASTINGS, NE – In their final game of the season at Duncan Field in Hastings, the Western Nebraska Pioneers came out on top, 9-8, in a wild contest on Monday night.
The Pioneers (31-12) fell behind early to Hastings (20-26) after Pioneers starter Cal Beardsley walked the first four batters he saw to start off his outing in the bottom of the first inning. An error scored two more runs and had the Pioneers in an early hole.
In the top of the second inning, the Pioneers exploded for five runs off of Hastings right-hander Matt Hess to take a 5-3 lead that they would hold for the rest of the contest. Hess allowed just those five runs over his five innings of work, walking six and striking out three while allowing nine hits.
Beardsley settled in well after his difficult first frame. He walked just one batter over his final four innings of work, allowed just four hits and struck out seven over five innings of work. It was enough for Beardsley to earn his fourth win of the summer.
Both teams were quiet offensively in the middle innings, but things broke out for Western Nebraska in the seventh. After stranding multiple runners in several of the middle frames, the Pioneers finally scored three runs off of Sodbusters reliever Daniel Hundley. Another run crossed in the top of the eighth, and things looked comfortable for the Pioneers from there.
However, the Sodbusters made things interesting in the last two innings. After a two-out error allowed a man to score in the bottom of the eighth, the Sodbusters drove home three unearned runs to make it just a two-run game. In the bottom of the ninth, Alex Jorgensen allowed the winning run to reach base, but fired back-to-back strikeouts to earn his first save of the season.
The Pioneers return home on Tuesday to take on Hastings for the final time this season. Jeremiah Mauch makes his Pioneers debut when the game starts at 6:35 PM MST.