Nathan Ballard blasted two home runs Tuesday afternoon to lead the Lovell Mustangs to a 7-5 over the Cody Cubs and a split of their conference doubleheader in Cowley.
Cody won the first game 10-1.
Ballard’s first homer came in the first inning. Cody had plated two runs in the top of the first off Lovell starter Steven Pickett, but Ballard gave the Mustangs the lead, 3-2, when his home run to left center field scored Pickett, who had doubled home Dino Collins. Collins had led off by drawing a walk.
Cody scored two in the third to lead 4-3, but Lovell quickly answered in the bottom of the frame as Ballard ripped a two-run homer, scoring Dillon Pickett and putting Lovell up 5-4.
The Cubs knotted the score 5-5 with a run in the fourth, but Steve Pickett settled down to blank the Cubs over the next three innings.
Lovell took the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Kyle Peterson doubled and scored on a passed ball. The Mustangs added an insurance run when Jacob Adey tripled and scored on a single by Collins.
Mustangs General Manager Ray Peterson, who umpired the doubleheader, said he believes the win was Lovell’s first over Cody since he took the reins of the program several years ago.
Cody had dominated the first game as the Cubs starter allowed only one run on four hits in the 10-1 win, but the Mustang bats fared much better in game two.
“We hit the ball well (in the second game),” Peterson said. “Pitching is 80 percent of the game. If your pitcher will throw strikes and make them earn it, (you have a chance to win). Their first pitcher made all the difference in that game.”
Lovell had 10 hits including five extra-base hits in the 7-5 second game.
“Good things happen when you hit the ball,” Peterson said. “We hit the gaps better in the second game. We’ll continue to work, and the tournament in Douglas (this weekend) will help us out.”
Pickett went the distance to pick up the win, allowing five runs on 10 hits with four strikeouts. He retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
Dylan Hultgren had a solid outing on the mound in game one, allowing 10 runs on 10 hits with four strikeouts.
With much of the team away at a basketball camp, a very young Mustang team fell to the Rock Springs Mustangs twice at home on Saturday, dropping game one 14-1 and game two 18-0.
Now 5-15 overall and 2-5 in the Northwest Conference, the Mustangs will travel to Douglas this weekend for the Bolin Memorial Wood Bat Tournament.
First, the Mustangs will play in Riverton tonight (Thursday) for a conference game as part of a makeup from two scheduled games last Friday in Riverton that were postponed, then they will take part in the wood bat tournament.
Lovell will open the tournament in Douglas by meeting Riverton for a conference game at 8 p.m. Friday, and the Mustangs will play two games Saturday, taking on host Douglas at 10:30 a.m. and Torrington at 1 p.m.
After the Friday-Saturday pool play, the teams will be seeded into a four-team bracket on Sunday with games at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Peterson said Lovell is scheduled to travel to Powell Monday night to make up a conference doubleheader that was postponed due to rain back on May 24, giving the Mustangs seven and possibly eight games in five days.
The Mustangs will participate in the Billings Halos Tournament July 14-16, then host the Sheridan Jets for their final home games Monday, July 18, at 1 p.m.
The District Tournament is July 21-23 in Gillette.
By David Peck