Mustangs tackle tough Montana squads

If the Lovell/Greybull Mustangs look a little weary, if their arms appear to be hanging and their legs seem a little unsteady, there’s a good reason. The Mustangs played eight games in four days last week – six in Cowley and two in Billings – all against tough Montana teams.

The Mustangs won two of the six contests.

Lovell/Greybull opened the stretch with a doubleheader in Cowley Thursday, June 2, against the powerful Laurel Dodgers, perennial Montana state contenders. Laurel swept the twin bill 13-2 and 16-1.

Laurel out-hit Lovell/Greybull 18-7 in game one, scoring three runs in the first inning and four in the second against starting pitcher Dakota Bond, then added one more in the third. The Mustangs stayed in the game with a run in the second and another in the third when Nic Haskell doubled home Riley Hill.

Reliever Juan Rivera blanked Laurel in the fourth and allowed only one run in the fifth, but Laurel got to Rivera for four in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

Game two was all Laurel as the Dodgers plated two in the first against starter Tanner Brinklow and added nine more in the second to lead 11-0. Wyatt Horrocks relieved Brinklow with two outs in the second and threw two more innings, shutting out the Dodgers in the third but allowing five in the fourth. Haskell threw a scoreless fifth.

Lovell/Greybull scored its lone run in the bottom of the fifth.

Losses to Glendive

Mustangs coach Michael Jameson was able to coach against his junior college manager, Brent Diegel, in a doubleheader Friday in Cowley against the Glendive Blue Devils. Diegel manages both the Dawson College team and the Glendive Legion squad. Jameson played under Diegel for two years at Dawson.

“It was cool to see him and get to coach against him,” Jameson said.

Glendive pulled away late to win game one 10-3, then won game two, as well, 13-2.

Starting pitcher Jeremy Schneider blanked Glendive for four innings in the first game as Lovell/Greybull clung to a 1-0 lead. Glendive plated three against the Mustang starter in the fifth, but the Mustangs tallied two in the bottom of the sixth to knot the score 3-3 after Trey Dickerson blanked the Blue Devils in the top of the frame. Glendive then got to Dickerson for seven runs in the top of the seventh.

“The score doesn’t indicate the type of game it really was,” Jameson noted.

Bond had all three RBIs for Lovell/Greybull, scoring Schneider with a fielder’s choice in the second inning and plating Schneider and Hill in the sixth with a single.

Lovell Mustangs pitcher Juan Rivera rocks and fires during Lovell’s 12-11 win Saturday against the Angels in Billings. Lynn Forcella photo
Lovell Mustangs pitcher Juan Rivera rocks and fires during Lovell’s 12-11 win Saturday against the Angels in Billings.
Lynn Forcella photo

Glendive gradually built a 6-2 lead against starter Cole Wambeke in game two, then put the game away with a seven-run sixth, during which Rivera relieved Wambeke.

Lovell/Greybull scored one in the bottom of the first and added another in the third when Haskell smashed a double to score Justin Bacus. Glendive, meanwhile, scored two in each the second, third and fourth against Wambeke, who struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings of work. Bacus and Rivera relieved during the Glendive seven-run outburst.

Jameson said it was good to schedule top competition from Montana.

“We definitely wanted to get games like this, see top-notch competition,” he said. “Laurel is a veteran, experienced team. They are definitely a championship contender in Montana single A. They’re the best hitting team we’ve seen all year.

“Glendive is another good team. He (Diegel) said they returned a lot of guys and will be competitive in single A. With a college coach, we knew they were going to be well-coached. They were a lot better games than the score indicated. The last one went from a four-run game to an 11-run game in a half an inning.”

Split in Billings

The Mustangs split a doubleheader against the Billings Angels in Billings Saturday, dropping a game one slugfest 20-11 and bouncing back to win game two, 12-11.

Lovell/Greybull banged out 13 hits in game one but also committed six errors. The Mustangs led 9-6 following a five-run top of the third, but Billings plated nine runs in the bottom of the third against Hill to lead 15-9. L/G made it 15-11 with two in the fourth, but the Angels put the game away with five in the fifth.

Jameson said Hill pitched three innings, Haskell one and Rivera two.

“It was one of those games where it was a slugfest back and forth,” Jameson said. “Riley got hit around a little bit, but we knew with eight games in four days we had to stretch guys a little bit and leave them in longer then you typically would and let them work through it. Riley did a good job staying in and competing.”

Lovell/Greybull won a nail-biter in game two as Schneider went 5-5 with two doubles and five runs batted in. The Mustangs banged out a season-high 16 hits, Jameson noted.

L/G trailed 9-7 after five innings but plated two in the top of the sixth to knot the score as Schneider doubled in Bacus and scored on a Gehrig Sweat single. The Mustangs scored three more in the top of the seventh on a three-run double by Schneider to lead 12-9 and held off the angels in the bottom of the frame.

Bond started on the mound for the Mustangs, pitching two innings, and Rivera picked up the win with five innings of work.

“That was huge for Juan to come in during the sixth game of an eight-game stretch,” Jameson said. “We got the lead and fought through to win.”

Final two at home

The Mustangs again faced the Billings Angels on Sunday, this time in Cowley. Lovell/Greybull won game one 5-4 but dropped the second game 10-0, finally running out of steam.

Three consecutive doubles by Dawson Forcella, Schneider and Bacus plated two runs for the Mustangs in the first inning, and after Billings scored two in the top of the second the home team responded with a run in the bottom of the frame when Dickerson squeezed home Horrocks.

Dickerson was strong on the mound for Lovell/Greybull, and Billings eventually tied the score with a run in the fifth after two shutout innings by the Mustang starter.

After a scoreless sixth, Billings took a 4-3 lead with a run in the top of the seventh, but Lovell/Greybull won the game with two in the bottom of the inning. Hill reached on an error and stole second. Dickerson reached on an error to put runners at the corners with one out, and Jameson put in Lovell sprinter Will Lillard to pinch run for Dickerson. Cole Wambeke then laced a double down the left field line, easily scoring Hill, and Lillard easily scored from first, as well.

Dickerson went the distance on the mound to pick up the win, allowing seven hits over seven innings and four runs, but only one run earned. He didn’t walk a runner and fanned two.

“Trey is a guy who doesn’t overpower people, so there’s not a lot of wear on his arm, so he can pitch extended innings,” Jameson said. “That was a huge outing for him.”

The Mustangs ran out of gas in the second game Sunday, Jameson said, noting, “We were just trying to piece it together and get through. Everyone was kind of drained.”

Starter Wyatt Horrocks allowed six runs, two earned, in two innings of work to take the loss, and Forcella allowed four runs, two earned, in three innings of work. Wambeke had two of L/G’s three hits, Forcella the other.

With a record of 6-9-1, heading into a Wednesday conference doubleheader at Powell, the Mustangs will have four more conference clashes this week: two at Riverton Monday at 5 and 7 p.m. and two more in Cody Tuesday, also at 5 and 7.

By David Peck