SPEARFISH, SD – The Western Nebraska Pioneers battled, but ultimately failed to capitalize on late offensive chances in a 6-5 loss to Spearfish on Thursday night at Black Hills Energy Stadium.
The Pioneers (28-12) were walked off for the second time on the year when Carter Thompson’s slow roller towards first base froze Esai Hernandez, who had no play, and scored Hayden Hastings, who served as the winning run for the Sasquatch (17-21). Hernandez was looking to complete a double play with just one out in the inning, but Thompson’s grounder was hit so slowly that there was no chance to turn two.
From the get-go, the Pioneers appeared the sharper team, scoring runs in each of the first four innings. Luther Woullard led the day offensively for the Pioneers, reaching base five times (three singles, a walk, and a hit by pitch). Colin Ludwig also had a nice day, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. It was not an effective day for Sasquatch starter Steven Dennis, who lasted just 3.2 innings after allowing five runs on four walks, seven hits and three strikeouts.
Dennis, however, came off the hook for a decision thanks to strong late offense and a stellar bullpen performance. Drake Berman worked 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and two walks, and Riley McSherry followed with two scoreless innings, allowing two baserunners. Jack Mattson played hero late for the Sasquatch, doubling home two runs in the sixth and then scoring the tying run on a sacrifice fly.
In his last outing with the team, Pioneer right-hander starter Chet Jones allowed five runs on four hits and three walks over six innings of work while striking out three. He ends his Pioneers career with a 5.03 ERA over 39.1 innings of work. Cameron Richman pitched the final 2.1 innings and took the tough-luck loss after allowing one run on one walk and three hits while fanning two.
Still holding onto a ten-game lead in the division, the Pioneers will trip up to Minot, North Dakota to take on the top squad in the Lewis division, the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs. Jack Sinclair starts for Western Nebraska in Friday’s series opener, which gets underway with a 6:05 PM MST first pitch.