Jul. 9—A close contest got away from the Gem City Bison in the ninth inning Friday, as they dropped their series opener against the Spearfish Sasquatch.
Gem City led by two for the bulk of the early going at Cowboy Field, and trailed by only one heading into the final frame. The Sasquatch blew the game open with a four-run ninth, however, and held on for a 10-5 victory.
The Bison fell to 13-26 on the year with the loss, while Spearfish improved to 18-19.
"They were in the game the whole time until the last inning," Gem City coach Tim Gansrow said. "They let it get away in the last inning, but I thought they competed very well. All you can ask your team is to come out and compete.
"They made some mistakes that may or may not have cost them the game. There were some offensive and baserunning mistakes, and some poor reads off the bat (on defense). But all in all, they competed pretty well."
The Bison jumped ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first, as Luke Banister drove in Derek Wood and Quinn McCafferty on an RBI single. A bases-loaded opportunity with one out gave them a chance to add to the damage. However, all three runners were stranded after back-to-back fly outs.
Spearfish evened the score with a two-run third inning, but Gem City had an immediate answer. Blake Murray came in to score on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Wood, with McCafferty driving in Caleb Salgado on a groundout during the next at-bat. Two runners were left on the base paths, though, and the Bison wouldn't score again until the eighth inning.
A three-run fifth put the Sasquatch ahead for good, and they would stretch their lead to two by adding another run in the top of the eighth. An RBI single by Banister in the bottom half of the inning cut the deficit to one, but an offensive explosion by Spearfish in the ninth stretched the gap to five runs.
The Bison left 13 runners on base, nine of which were stranded while they held a two-run lead during the first four innings.
"They had a chance to put this game away early," Gansrow said. "They had a pitcher in trouble, and they just let him off the hook. When you have pitchers early in games that really can't command the strike zone, you have to take advantage of it. They didn't, and that's OK. That's part of baseball.
"Then they ran themselves out of a few innings. They hit the ball pretty well, but when they had runners in scoring position, they made some baserunning blunders that ran themselves out of a few innings."
The Bison are set to play two games against Spearfish today. The first will begin at 1 p.m. at the Wyoming Territorial Prison, with the second scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Cowboy Field.
"I'd like to see a better baserunning approach — a smarter approach to baserunning — and I'd like to continue to have that two-strike approach with runners in scoring position, where they try to use the middle of the field," Gansrow said. "If they can continue to do that, I think we're going to be fine the rest of the way."
Josh Criswell covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @criswell_sports.