HASTINGS, NE – The Western Nebraska Pioneers fell behind early and never recovered on Sunday in Hastings, falling victim to a slew of poor pitching performances to drop the series finale to the Sodbusters, 17-5.
The Pioneers (17-9) actually jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. Jack Pauley doubled home two runs, and Nolan Metcalf drove him in a few batters lead to give Western Nebraska a 3-0 lead. From there, however, it was all Sodbusters (12-16). Pioneers starter Jonny Petsch struggled with command all night and fell behind hitters frequently, exiting after four innings after allowing six runs on two walks and eight hits, with three strikeouts.
From there, the Pioneers bullpen struggled to compete with a usually tepid Sodbuster offense. Teddy Broxterman, Matt Delcambre, Dagin Renck and Luke Bradley allowed a combined eleven runs over the final four innings in arguably the worst combined pitching performance of the year by the Pioneers.
Offensively, Western Nebraska was far from impressive as well, as Matt Hess powered through five innings against the Pioneers, walking one and fanning six while allowing four earned runs. The Sodbusters trotted out three relievers with poor numbers to follow Hess, and the Pioneers managed just one hit and three walks with no runs off the Hastings bullpen.
The Pioneers were led offensively by Pauley, who scored two runs and drove in two, Esai Hernandez, who was 2-for-5 with two RBIs, and Hobbs Nyberg, who had a 3-for-4 night. Hastings got a 4-6 night from Carter Elliott, and the bottom third of the Sodbuster order scored nine runs and had six hits.
The Pioneers return home to Oregon Trail Park Stadium on Tuesday for a battle with the Pierre Trappers in a doubleheader beginning at 5 PM MST. Cal Beardsley and Evan Ingram will start the two games of the doubleheader for the Pioneers.