The Lovell Mustangs were tantalizingly close to a win last Wednesday, June 24, as they met the Riverton Raiders on a rainy evening in Cowley. Hoping to break out of a seven-game losing streak, they instead played to a tie with the Raiders, 3-3, as the game was rained out after seven innings.
They then played well but dropped both games of a non-conference doubleheader to the Cody Cubs Friday night at home, 4-3 and 8-4.
On Wednesday, starting pitcher Blake Wilson blanked the Raiders over the first three innings while the Mustangs scored single runs in each the second and third innings to lead 2-0. Tyson Christiansen doubled and scored on a Bishop Trainor single in the second inning, and in the third Jess Wambeke singled, advanced to third on a steal and a passed ball, and scored on a Satchel Ginest single. Meanwhile, young Wilson was keeping the Raiders off balance.
“I thought he pitched excellent,” manager Michael Jameson said of the 14-year-old. “He’s been throwing really well for the C (Babe Ruth age) team, which gave him a chance to play at the A level.
“It was an excellent start for him. He showed maturity on the mound. He stayed focused and kept his composure. Probably the biggest positive was that he was able to stay composed and not show emotion when something didn’t go his way. That’s probably his greatest area of growth.”
Riverton knotted the score with a two-run home run in the top of the fourth and took the lead 3-2 on a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth.
Lovell came right back to tie the score in the bottom of the frame as Branson Robison was hit by a pitch with two out, stole second and scored on a line drive single by Ezra Harlow.
“That was good for Ezra,” Jameson said. “He’s starting to get going offensively.”
Reliever Nate Minemyer blanked Riverton in the top of the seventh, and Lovell loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on an error and two walks as the rain began pouring. Riverton got a strikeout to end the inning with the score tied 3-3, and after waiting about 20 minutes the coaches and umpires decided to call the game – and the second game of the doubleheader – a rainout.
Close with Cody
Friday found the Mustangs hosting Cody for a non-conference twin bill, and the Mustangs held their own against the league leading Cubs, dropping a pair 4-3 and 8-4.
Lovell nearly pulled an upset in game one, taking a lead midway through the game, only to be overtaken late.
Cody jumped on top 2-0, plating a pair in the top of the second off Lovell starter Tyson Christiansen. It could have been worse but for a great throw from center fielder Trainor to William Spann at second base for a double play.
Trainor, who missed several games with a broken hand, is starting to get more comfortable, Jameson said, noting, “He’s getting more comfortable with his bat against live pitching and can add some pop to our lineup.”
The Mustangs rallied in the bottom of the third to plate three runs and take a 3-2 lead. Ginest hit a two-run single, and Trainor doubled home the third run.
Cody tied the score on a passed ball in the top of the fifth, then took the lead 4-3 with a single tally in the sixth. Although the Mustangs played errorless ball, they were only able to score in one inning, not crossing the plate over the final four frames.
Christiansen took the loss, allowing seven hits and four runs (three earned) while walking four and striking out four before leaving the lineup with two outs in the seventh due to the pitch limit. Wambeke got the final out.
“That was an excellent outing for Tyson,” Jameson said. “At times when he got into a jam he showed the maturity to work out of it.”
No loss is good, but Jameson said he’s pleased that his team is right there with one of the best teams in the state.
“A game like that is a lot easier to take than games where you hurt yourself (with mistakes),” he said. “I can live with that (game), a one-run game where we play clean baseball. There were a lot of positives to take out of both games.”
Ginest had a strong game at the plate, going three for four with two runs batted in.
In game two Cody led 5-0 after a four-run top of the second against Lovell starting pitcher Minemyer, but the Mustangs rallied for four in the bottom of the inning. Ginest doubled and scored on a double by Branson Robison. With the bases loaded Harlow hit a sacrifice fly to score a run, Robison scored on a balk and Pickett scored on a passed ball. Lovell was close trailing 5-4.
Minemyer and his teammates kept Cody off the scoreboard for two innings until Cody plated three in the top of the fifth to lead 8-4, which would be the final score.
After knocking out the Cody starter, Phillips, the Mustangs failed to score against relievers Ethan Johnston and Grentz over the next 5 2/3 innings.
Noting that the Mustangs were in the game all the way, Jameson said Cody’s experience showed Friday in the form of clutch hits that scored runs.
“We had our chances in the game the whole way,” he said. “We had a couple of errors, but it was a pretty good performance.
“I’m not into moral victories, but it’s nice to see us improve and be competitive in games like that. I feel eventually the ball is going to bounce our way. As the year goes on we’ll start winning some of these games.”
A combined A team/B team doubleheader in Powell was rained out Monday night and will not be rescheduled, Jameson said. The Mustangs were scheduled to play two games at Laurel Tuesday evening, and that twin bill was cancelled due to earlier rain that left the field unplayable, he said.
Next up was a scheduled conference doubleheader at Powell Wednesday evening, July 1. The Mustangs travel to Riverton Monday for a pair at 4 p.m., then host Cody Wednesday, July 8, for a conference twin bill at 5 p.m. in Cowley.
By David Peck