Jul. 23—DICKINSON — A lead-off home run would be the nail in the coffin for the Badlands Big Sticks as the Western Nebraska Pioneers would wagon train their way to a series splitting win on Friday at Astoria Field in Dickinson.
A lack of hits and too many errors would prove fatal for the Sticks in a 7-3 result where the Big Sticks didn't hold a lead in the game. Western Nebraska would go 2-0 at the top of the first inning following a fielding error by third baseman Kobe Krenz, and never look back.
"We didn't take care of the baseball," Cam Johnson, Big Sticks head coach, said. "I think we gave them four out of their seven runs, so if we take care of it a little bit better I think it's a different outcome."
An RBI single by Austin Bunn at the bottom of the first kept the home team in it, as starting pitcher Devyn Hernandez would shut out the opposition for the next two innings. Hernandez held the mound for four innings, allowing five hits and four runs, only two of which were earned.
A two-run fifth inning for the Sticks would see the scoreboard narrow at 4-3. A Daniel Rogers single, who proceeded to second off an error and a sacrifice by Gunnar Hansen, would circle to score. Despite the continued efforts, the Big Sticks would find scoring opportunities few and far between. The Sticks maintained composure in the batter's box as they pushed counts into five and six pitches, but tremendous off-speed movement would prove lights out for the Sticks who would claim only five hits while succumbing to 12 strikeouts.
"We didn't make a ton of adjustments at the plate," Johnson said. "We just kind of made the same mistakes over and over again... When that happens it's tough to win ball games."
Saturday's game will bring a conclusion to the series and be the deciding game.