DICKINSON, ND – A few errors on the right side of the infield doomed the Western Nebraska Pioneers on Wednesday night as they dropped a tough 6-5 decision to the Badlands Big Sticks in front of a strong crowd at Astoria Field.
For the Big Sticks (24-21), the win stopped a five-game losing streak. Badlands jumped out to an early lead, scoring runs in the first three innings off of Pioneers (32-13) starter Conner Deeds. Deeds, making his first start in over a month, gave up early home runs to the Big Sticks slugging duo of Jake Thurber and Gabe Knowles. Another run came home to score in the third on an error by Hobbs Nyberg with two outs.
The Pioneers made things interesting in the third when Jack Pauley hit a two-run homer to tie the game at three. Colton Onstott hit a homer of his own in the second inning. From there, however, the Pioneers stayed behind by one run until the seventh. Back-to-back RBI singles with two outs from Hobbs Nyberg and Pauley gave the Pioneers a one-run lead in that frame.
In the bottom of the seventh, disaster struck. Teddy Broxterman poured his heart in relief, tossing three scoreless innings, but was relieved for Evan Ingram after a leadoff walk. Ingram got two outs with the tying run on second base, but a flubbed ground ball on the right side of the infield scored an unearned run, and a base hit from Ben Thoma gave the Big Sticks a one-run advantage.
From there, reliever Cort Dietrich closed out the Pioneers with two innings of scoreless relief. Roman Oliu had a solid start, allowing five runs over 6.2 innings on two walks, seven hits and six strikeouts. Broxterman took a tough-luck loss in the defeat.
The series continues on Thursday at Astoria Field as the Pioneers look for the series split. Jack Sinclair will start for Western Nebraska in the series finale.