GERING, NE – The Western Nebraska Pioneers split a doubleheader with the Badlands Big Sticks at Oregon Trail Park Stadium on Wednesday, with both games heading completely opposite directions. The Pioneers were shut out, 7-0, in game one, before Conner Deeds had a masterful pitching performance in a 2-0 game two victory to clinch the split.
In game one, the Pioneers (37-15) were kept off the scoreboard for the first time all summer. Despite a 35-minute rain delay between the sixth and seventh inning, Badlands (29-25) right-hander Connor Grytdal threw a complete-game shutout, striking out three and walking one while allowing five hits over seven innings. The Pioneer offense got nothing going in game one, while new starter Gunner Pickett struggled in the first inning (allowing four runs) and never was able to recover. He took the loss after allowing five runs over four innings of work.
In game two, Conner Deeds pieced together the best outing by a Pioneer pitcher this season, and perhaps the best by any pitcher in the Expedition League all year long. In his fifth and final start as a Pioneer, Deeds pitched 6+ innings, recording 18 outs – 15 of them being by the strikeout. He allowed just three hits and three walks, and was kept off the hook for any earned runs when Jeff Hakanson came in in the seventh inning with two on and no outs and struck out the side. Just three Big Stick outs in game two were recorded in the field.
The Pioneers again saw minimal offense in game two, but they wouldn’t need much given how Deeds threw on the bump. Colin Ludwig’s two-run single in the bottom of the first proved the turning point, as Nick Jennings never got the offensive support from Badlands to get back into the game. Jennings pitched well, striking out seven and allowing just two hits over 4 innings, but struggled with command in the loss.
The Pioneers will head to Wyoming this weekend for a three-game weekend series with the Casper Horseheads. Jack Sinclair gets the ball in game one of the series on Friday, with first pitch set for 6:35 PM MST.