Western Nebraska wins last home game of regular season

Western Nebraska’s Jordan Rathbone celebrates with head coach Jimmy Turk after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of Friday’s game against the Badlands Big Sticks.  

After dropping the series opener on Thursday to the Badlands Big Sticks, the Western Nebraska Pioneers finished their home season with a bang. The Clark Division leaders racked up 14 hits en route to a 10-6 win over Badlands, Friday night at Oregon Trail Park Stadium in Gering.

Both offenses were hot out of the gate. Badlands tacked on two in the first inning off of Western Nebraska starting pitcher Andrei Stoyanow. But the Pioneers bounced back with three runs in the bottom half to take the lead.

That would be the narrative of the whole game, as Western Nebraska answered every Badlands run with one, or more, of their own.

After five innings, the Pioneers held a slim 6-5 lead after designated hitter Jordan Rathbone crushed a solo home run to left field.

The lead held until Conner VanCleave hit a ground rule double in the top of the seventh that scored Michael Fuhrman to tie the game at 6-6.

But the Pioneer bats answered with the biggest inning of the contest, scoring four runs on four hits to take a commanding 10-6 lead.

Jake Gitter started the rally with a double and scored from third when Chance Medina followed with a two bagger of his own. Quinn Ayers hit a sharp single that gave Medina plenty of time to cross home plate then Zack Peterson ripped a triple to score Ayers.

After Jacen Roberson drew a walk, Cole Gambill hit a deep fly out, letting Peterson tag up from third and score.

The damage had been done and the Pioneers turned to the bullpen to shut the door on Badlands. Closer Alex Jorgensen stepped on the mound with one out in the seventh and held the Big Sticks to just one hit and one walk while striking out three to earn the win.

Stoyanow struck out eight over 6 1/3 innings, but allowed eight hits and six runs.

Three Pioneers finished with 2-RBI games. With one of the doubles in the seventh inning, Medina finished with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Ayers also drove in two on a pair of hits with one run. Gambill went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run.

Other Pioneers with multi-hit games include Jordan Rathbone, Jake Gitter and Jacen Roberson.

The Pioneers will start a two-game road series with the Casper Horseheads on Saturday at Mike Lansing Field.

Western Nebraska will return to Oregon Trail Park Stadium on Wednesday for the Divisional Playoff game. The Pioneers will face the Fremont Moo, who beat Hub City 3-1 on Friday to secure second place in the Clark Division. The winner will move on to the championship series against the winner of the Lewis Division, either the Big Sticks or the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs.

Big Sticks 210 020 100 — 6 9 1

Pioneers 302 010 40x — 10 14 0

WP — Alex Jorgensen. LP — Nick Jennings.

2B — Big Sticks (Michael Fuhrman, Bryson ford, Conner VanCleave 2). Pioneers (Jacen Roberson, Jake Gitter, Chance Medina).

3B — Big Sticks (Michael Fuhrman, Mason Schwellenbach). Pioneers (Zack Peterson).

HR — Pioneers (Jordan Rathbone).

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