Date: Aug 13, 2018
(Photo credit: Scottsbluff Star-Herald)
By Miles Klotz
GERING, NE - Jack Sinclair was excellent on the mound once again and the Pioneer bats did just enough to top the Hastings Sodbusters, 7-2, on Tuesday night at Oregon Trail Park Stadium in the Clark Division one-game playoff and send the Pioneers to the League Championship Series.
The Pioneers (47-17) fell behind early in the first inning when Hastings (31-34) first baseman Brooks Asher singled through the right side to score Austin Elder. From there, it was all Pioneers. Jack Sinclair allowed just one more run in his six innings of work, on a wild pitch that scored a man from third. He earned the win by allowing just the two runs in six innings on five hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
The Pioneers struggled early against Hastings ace Trey Kissack, striking out five times in the first two innings, but started to get to him in the third. Brandon Bohning worked a tough at-bat before reaching on an error with one out in the inning before Hobbs Nyberg followed with a single. Two batters later, Alex Achtermann crushed an opposite-field home run over the left-center fence to give the Pioneers a 3-1 lead.
The offense would again strike in the sixth inning. After the wild pitch scored a second Hastings run, Nolan Metcalf led off the sixth inning with a solo homer to deep right-center field. Two batters later, Kissack was done, with his pitch count at 119 over just 5.2 innings. He allowed four runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out eight.
Western Nebraska pounded reliever Jake Bennett for three runs in the seventh inning. Brandon Bohning walked, stole second, and then moved to third and scored on wild pitches, while Colin Ludwig had a sacrifice fly and Jack Pauley also scored on a double steal in that inning.
From there, the Pioneer bullpen took the reins by setting down the Sodbusters in order in the last three innings. Logan Gilbertson faced six batters and recorded six outs, striking out two, while Jeff Hakanson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts.
The Pioneers will open up the league championship series on Friday. A scheduling change has sent games one and two of the series to Gering. Game one will begin at 6:35 PM MST on Friday at Oregon Trail Park Stadium against the Badlands Big Sticks.