After a pair of rainouts earlier in the week, the Lovell Mustangs got a couple of games in last Wednesday, July 1, and picked up their first conference win of the season.
They then dropped both ends of a doubleheader in Riverton Monday.
The Mustangs had been schedule to play a combined A/B doubleheader Monday, June 29, in Powell, but that pair was washed out by a storm that passed through the area. The same storm left a field in Laurel, Mont., too wet to play on, so a Tuesday twin bill against the Laurel Dodgers was also cancelled.
Wednesday, however, the Mustangs traveled to face the Powell Pioneers in a conference A game and beat the Pioneers 7-4 before dropping game two 17-3.
Lovell couldn’t put a run on the scoreboard for the first five innings of game one and trailed 3-0 after five. But the Mustangs plated two in the top of the sixth and five in the seventh to win 7-4, with Powell scoring one in the bottom of the sixth between the two Mustang rallies.
“We had a few opportunities early. They had Colin Queen on the mound, their ace, and we did a good job grinding out and having quality at bats,” manager Mike Jameson said. “A few times with the wind blowing in the ball hung up. Toward the end of the game we were starting to see the ball better and were able to capitalize on the same kind of opportunities we had earlier on.”
CJ Pickett doubled home two runs in the sixth, and the Mustangs continued to hit the ball in the seventh. With his team down 4-2, Ezra Harlow doubled to score Irving Castro, pinch running for William Spann, who led off the inning with a single. After a single by Jess Wambeke and a walk to Carlos Rodriguez to load the bases, Tyson Christiansen walked to force in the tying run.
After a force at home for the first out, Branson Robison singled to score Rodriguez, Pickett reached on an error to score Christiansen and Satchel Ginest scooted home on a passed ball to make the score 7-4 before Powell got out of the inning.
Starting pitcher Jess Wambeke got the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and after he ran out of pitches Pickett recorded the final out to seal the win. Wambeke allowed four runs, two earned, in 6 2/3 innings of work on nine hits but only a single walk. He struck out nine.
“Jess was good the whole night,” Jameson said. “He did a good job limiting the walks to just the one and with the nine strikeouts was very comfortable and confident on the mound. He did a great job.”
Robison and Harlow had two hits each for the Mustangs, who had nine hits in the game.
In game two, Lovell took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Ginest, but Lovell starting pitcher Blake Wilson and reliever CJ Pickett allowed 12 runs in the bottom of the inning on four walks, two wild pitches and eight hits. The Mustangs made two errors in the inning, as well.
“It was just one of those things that happen in baseball where Blake couldn’t seem to get comfortable on the mound and struggled to throw strikes,” Jameson said. “As has been characteristic this year, when something starts to go wrong, it snowballs and goes from bad to worse.”
The Mustangs cut into the lead in the second inning on a two-run triple by Rodriguez, and Pickett settled down to blank the Pioneers in the second and third. But the Pioneers scored five insurance runs in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Lovell had only three hits in the game, one each by Rodriguez, Ginest and Robison. Wilson took the loss on the hill.
Riverton twin bill
Monday in Riverton, the Mustangs led Riverton 3-2 in game one after 4½ innings, but the home team rallied for five in the bottom of the fifth to take a 7-3 lead, which would end up being the final score.
Lovell plated two in the top of the second to put the first runs on the scoreboard. Riverton matched the Mustangs with two in the bottom of the frame, but Lovell scored a single run in the top of the third to lead 3-2 when Rodriguez singled and scored on a two-out base hit by Bishop Trainor.
Christiansen relieved starting pitcher Rodriguez on the mound for the Mustangs and blanked the Raiders in the bottom of the third and fourth, but Riverton got to Christiansen and reliever Robison to score five in the fifth with two out on three hits and four walks. The Lovell bats went cold, meanwhile, and the Mustangs failed to score in the final four innings.
“Our pitchers threw well, for the most part,” Jameson said. “Branson, in his first outing, did well but couldn’t get out of the inning with the two outs and Riverton was able to capitalize on some of those walks.
“We couldn’t make the adjustment at the plate. At one time we had nine ground outs to their shortstop.”
Game two was all Riverton as the Raiders pounded Lovell starter Ginest for five runs in the first inning and four in the second to build a 9-1 lead en route to a 14-4 win.
“Satchel was leaving the ball up and not getting a lot of movement on his off-speed pitches,” Jameson noted. “They were able to get to him early, and he also struggled with control.”
The Mustangs cut the deficit to five at 9-4 with three in the fourth as Cale Wright singled home a pair and scored on a single by Rodriguez. But the Mustangs didn’t score again as Riverton “10-runned” the visitors with a run in the fourth and four in the bottom of the sixth.
Riverton only out-hit Lovell 9-8 in the game, but three errors and nine walks doomed Mustang pitchers Ginest, Lane Herman and Trainor. Rodriguez and Herman had two hits each to lead the Lovell offense. Rodriguez and Wright each drove in a pair.
The Mustangs hosted Cody Wednesday night for a pair of conference games and will then participate in the Billings Halos Tournament this weekend. Lovell is scheduled to meet the Upper Deck Expos at noon Friday and the Miles City Mavericks at 2:30 p.m. at the Halos field, followed by the host Halos Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with one more game to follow on Saturday.
Tuesday, the Mustangs are scheduled to host the Laurel Dodgers at 5 and 7 p.m.
By David Peck