GERING, NE – The Western Nebraska Pioneers got another stellar pitching performance from Chet Jones and rode early offense all the way to the bank in a 5-3 victory over Pierre in the team’s return home to Gering on Monday night.
With the threat of rain overlooking Oregon Trail Park Stadium all night, the Pioneers (16-7) got off to an early start, with Jack Pauley, in his first-at bat with the Pioneers, driving home Hobbs Nyberg to give Western Nebraska a quick and easy 1-0 lead off of Trappers (9-12) starter Tyler McDonald.
From there, the Pioneers could feel pretty comfortable with Chet Jones on the mound. Coming into the game with a league-leading ERA of 1.50, Jones was nearly untouchable for the first five frames, even if his typical strikeout stuff was not totally there. Jones ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, allowing a few hard-hit balls, and seeing two runs come home on a sacrifice fly after an error, but the Pioneers offense had already pushed across three more earlier runs to help hold on to a 4-2 cushion after seven innings. Jones finished after allowing two runs (one earned) on two walks and four strikeouts over seven innings.
Things got very interesting in the seventh inning as the Trappers slowly but surely tacked away at dominant Pioneers reliever Jeff Hakanson, who allowed a few softly hit singles to put two runners on before a wild pitch and passed ball cut the Pioneers’ lead to one. With the tying run in scoring position and nobody out, Hakanson struck out the 2-3-4 of the Trappers order to hold the lead at one.
The Pioneers tacked on another run on an RBI double from Andrew Bates in the bottom of the eighth, and Hakanson earned his third save by striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
McDonald took the loss for Pierre, allowing four earned runs on 11 hits and 1 walk over six innings. He did have solid stuff all day, striking out seven. Arturo Monroy allowed one run on two walks and one strikeout in relief, while Joseph Brazil allowed two hits and fanned two in one inning out of the bullpen.
The Pioneers continue their series with the Trappers on Tuesday night at Oregon Trail Park Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM MST, with Brandon Morse scheduled to take the ball for the Pioneers.