Jul. 17—Though the weather was a bit cloudy and the air carried some humidity, the home crowd was in good spirits as they came out to watch the Badlands Big Sticks defend their home diamond from the Canyon County Spuds and to show appreciation to local veterans on military night.
Friday's evening game was the first time these two teams played one another this season, but the Big Sticks came out eager for runs. The game resulted in a 10-2 victory for the home team and was followed by a game jersey auction with proceeds going to the local veteran service.
Josh Tucker started on the mound and the sophomore from Spokane Community College arm was absolutely on fire shutting out the opposition up until the sixth inning. Tucker started the first inning delivering two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning.
"Josh has made a great dedication to the weight room, he is looking to make strength gains and I think overall his body was a bit tired, but at the ninety pitch limit, gong back out in the seventh, having not allowed a run, I asked him how he felt and he told me he wanted the ball. So that is just the kind of competitor that he is and it's hard to take the ball from him when he is going like that," Badlands pitching coach Matt Hape said. "Josh Tucker has been phenomenal all season.... Every time he goes out for us we are very confident that he is going to give us a great opportunity to win the ballgame."
Going into the game Tucker had an ERA of 2.87, leading the division in strikeouts with 27. He would add 10 more to that tally before his relief pitcher Colin Smith. Smith would pitch for one inning before they would go to the bullpen for their closer Mason Hoover grabbing two additional strikeouts — one of which would close out the game.
The first run from the Big Sticks came in the first from powerhouse Joe Osborn who would arrive home with great ease on a bases loaded hit by pitch walk with only one hit in the inning.
The away side would have three pitchers on the mound as well, who would accumulate five hit by pitches and only four strikeouts among them. Osborn would be hit twice in the game, he has the most HBP on the team with 12.
In between the third inning they welcomed veterans onto the field and presented a $2,500 donation to the Stark County Veterans Services. ENG Lending partnered up with the Badlands Big Sticks to show veteran recognition, especially to those in the local area.
The third would bring five hits and three runs for the Big Sticks to further their advantage. Angel De La Cruz would first take second from a wild pitch on his way to home. Derek Gellos would follow after Eric Martinez hit a double. A double would also bring Martinez around the corner to touch the fourth bag.
De La Cruz was 2 for 3, had seven putouts in the game at first which would include a backdoor tag in the final inning.
"Angel is a big time player, he is a plus defender, he can hit for average and he can hit for power," head coach Billy Tomblin said. "He is a very intelligent baseball player, like the backpick at first base with Stafford throwing down there ... He just got a lot of instinct about him and it's fun to watch him play."
At the top of the seventh, the Spuds were able to get a run on the board from a home run by Zach Tallerman, However the Badlands would crush any hopes of a rally after putting up five runs at the bottom to cushion their lead.
The final run from Canyon County would come from an RBI single in the eighth. At the bottom their second relief pitcher would be substituted in but would allow two walks for Gellos to take the final run of the game with a free run on a bases loaded walk.
The game ended with the smell of rain in the air and as the crowd headed to their cars, a good amount, filling the area in front of the press box, stayed to participate in the live auction of the players' jerseys and to get autographs.