Pioneers one win away from second title

DICKINSON, N.D. – Andrei Stoyanow went eight strong innings and the Western Nebraska Pioneers are one game away from repeating as Expedition League champions after a dominating 9-1 win over the Badlands Big Sticks in game one of the best of three league championship series at Dickinson, North Dakota, Friday evening.

The Pioneers will look to earn the championship Saturday night at Oregon Trail Park Stadium when the Pioneers and the Big Sticks battle in game two. Action begins at 6:35 p.m. at the Gering ballpark with an if-necessary game slated for Sunday at 4:35 p.m. in Gering.

Friday night, however, was another sparkling pitching performance from Stoyanow, who went eight innings in scattering seven hits and striking out nine. Alex Jorganson tossed the ninth, allowing two hits and striking out one.

Western Nebraska started the offense right from the beginning, scoring two in the first and two more in the third for a 4-0 lead. Zack Peterson led off the game with a single. Peterson and Cole Gambill each scored on a 2-out double by Colin Ludwig for the 2-0 lead.

Western Nebraska made it 4-0 in the third on four hits. Once again, Peterson led off the frame with a single and scored three batters later to make it 3-0. Jacen Roberson made it 4-0 after scoring on a Ludwig single.

The game stayed tight for the next three innings before the Pioneers busted the contest open with three in the seventh on four hits. And, once again, Peterson started the scoring inning off with a single and scored one batter later on a Roberson double. The Pioneers went up 7-0 after Gambill took a pitch deep to the outfield for a 2-run home run.

Badlands scored its first run in the eighth when Ryan Gross scored on a Kaimana Souza single.

Any hopes of a Badlands comeback was soon erased with the Pioneers plating two in the ninth on two hits. Roberson and Gambill scored on a Will Olson double for the 9-1 lead.

The Pioneers finished the game with 13 hits. Ludwig led the way with a 4-hit attack. Ludwig had two doubles with three singles, while scoring two runs.

Peterson finished with three hits, all singles, while scoring three runs. Roberson also tallied two hits with a double and three runs scored.

Gambill had one hit with two walks. Gambill had a home run with three runs scored and two RBIs.

Olson added two RBIs with a double.


Pioneers 202 000 302 – 9 13 1

Badlands 000 000 010 – 1 9 1

WP – Andrei Stoyanow.

2B – Jacen Roberson, Will Olson, Colin Ludwig 2.

HR – Cole Gambill.

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Mark Rein is a correspondent with the Star-Herald. Email to reach Mark.

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