HASTINGS, NE – The Western Nebraska Pioneers used a late offensive rally and strong bullpen performance to defeat the Hastings Sodbusters, 6-4, on Saturday night at Duncan Field in Hastings.
The Pioneers (17-8) have frequently found themselves requiring late rallies to win or help put away ballgames, and that mantra held true on Saturday. Tied at four in the top of the ninth inning, Luther Woullard singled home the go-ahead run, and he came home a batter later on an RBI double by Jack Pauley. That culminated a six-run day for Western Nebraska, who battled all day off of Sodbusters (11-16) starter Daylon Owens.
Owens took a no-decision for Hastings, allowing three runs on four walks and three hits while striking out four. Gavin Gragg, who entered the game with a record of 4-0, took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and one walk over three innings.
Jack Sinclair started for the Pioneers, cruising through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. He finished his day after allowing two runs on three hits and one walk over 4.2 innings pitched, but took a no-decision. Logan Gilbertson tossed 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, earning the win, and Jeff Hakanson struck out the side in the ninth to earn his fourth save.
Pauley led the way offensively for the Pioneers with a three-hit day, driving in two runs. Nobody else on the Pioneers had multiple hits, but Woullard, Esai Hernandez, and Nolan Metcalf all reached base multiple times. Kolby Force had two hits for the Sodbusters, and Shawn Barrowdale chipped in a two-run double.
The two teams finish up the series on Sunday at Duncan Field, with first pitch scheduled for 5:35 PM. Jonny Petsch will take the ball for the Pioneers, weather pending.