Yes, the Pioneers fans went home happy after Wednesday night’s win because the “K Man” in Grant Schmidt struck out two times giving the fans half price beer for two innings. They felt even better though because their team came out on top of Hastings by a final score of 4-1, seeing the Pioneers win live for the first time since July 8th.
The pitching staff for Western Nebraska was nothing short of a bully to the Sodbusters hitters with four pitchers giving up a combined one run on four hits. They were led by Gonzaga freshman Reagan Haas, who bounced back in a big way from his previous start, throwing five shutout innings collecting four punch outs. Haas, who was supposed to get the ball tomorrow, got his start moved up to last night given that his family was in town. Chandler Young, Ryan Flippo and Mikey Callia put on the finishing touches giving up just one solo shot to Grant Schmidt in their combined four innings.
In those five scoreless innings from Haas, the Pioneers, for the second night in a row, had a three-run second inning. It all started when catcher Gabe Togia showed off more of the low-key power he has when he split the gap in left center field scoring Trevor Mattson from second. Then, the next batter in Kai Alberghini, who went 3-4 Tuesday, continued his dominance in the series with an oppo taco two-run homerun to set the tone for the Pios.
Sodbusters starter Jeremy Schneider was taken out after the spacious second inning striking out two and walking one in what was his second shortest outing of the year. Hastings then looked to the bullpen and took their chances on Ray Ray Douglas who came into the third inning sporting a 13.50 ERA. The righty out of Des Moines Area Community College though did not have the spotting and the movement of a guy who has an ERA in the double digits. He put up four zeros in his first four innings out of the pen, but Western was able to find some weakness from him in the sixth. With the score now 3-1 Pios, Gabe Huante was able to use his speed to capitalize off a rare Douglas mistake when the righty hit the Pioneers second baseman in the elbow guard. Huante later stole second, was hit to third by Jason Luke, and scored on a wild pitch to increase their lead to three. That would be the last run to come across home plate for the Pios, but frankly they didn’t need that run or any more for that matter, because the bullpen was in control the rest of the way.
Chandler Young came into the sixth and pitched two innings, while letting up the lone Hastings run of the ballgame. He placed a change-up right down the middle to left fielder Grant Schmidt in the sixth, who blasted the baseball into orbit over the left field wall to cut the Pios lead to two. After the Pios got that run back, Ryan Flippo came into the eighth and sat the Sodbusters hitters he faced down in order with a strikeout on Grant Schmidt to end the inning. The scoreless outing increased Flippo’s scoreless appearances streak to six, after giving up five runs in 1.1 innings in his first outing of the season. Mikey Callia then came into the ninth looking for his second save of the season. The Lower Columbia Community College prodigy made it a little interesting, bringing the potential tying run to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs, but the righty did Efry Cervantes dirty on a slider that buckled the Nebraska infielder to catch him looking and moving his team’s record to 13-19.
Sadly for Pioneers fans, the win didn’t do much in the Clark Division standings with the 1st place Fremont Moo getting their fifth straight win tonight, keeping Western 5.5 games back. The glass needs to be seen half full though for the Pios if they want to have motivation to stay in contention, and that good mentality involves seeing their win tonight keeping them in the hunt. Tomorrow, the Pioneers have the rubber match game lined up perfectly with their ace Bradley Mullan taking the bump, and a guy probably on the mound for the Sodbusters, who their offense has roughed up in the past, in Andrew Shaw.