Mustangs battle in tight contests, split with Cody

David Peck

There was little margin for error for the Lovell Mustangs at the Roy Peck Wood Bat Tournament over the weekend in Riverton as they played to a 1-2-1 record, each game decided by one run, plus a tie.

Saturday, the Mustangs fell to Rawlins 6-5 and edged Green River 9-8. Sunday, they tied with host Riverton 4-4 in a game called due to a time limit, then fell to the same Raiders squad 3-2.

Manager Michael Jameson said the Mustangs are generally playing well but are working to put together complete games.

“The biggest thing overall is just the consistency, getting a consistent lineup, getting a consistent group of kids there,” Jameson said. “That’s a big part – and playing consistent baseball, being able to pitch, hit and play good defense. We do some good things, but we just haven’t been able to do it all at the same time. A big part of that is having such a musical chairs roster, so to speak, at this point with so many things going on. Hopefully, that will slow down a little bit and we’ll start getting settled in with who we have and who we can rely on.

“The biggest bright spot of the weekend was our pitching. I think overall this year our pitchers have thrown very well for us. We got an excellent outing from Jacob Bischoff and Blake (Wilson), and Matthew (Newman) threw well. So I think the biggest takeaway from the weekend was that our pitchers threw real well for us. It seems like we throw well and then we don’t score runs or don’t throw real well and score a bunch of runs or some combination of that. But for the most part I think our pitchers have done really well for us this season so far and have kept us in games.”

Saturday split

In game one Saturday, the Rawlins Bandits got to Lovell starting pitcher Cove Jolley for three runs in the second inning, two more in the third and one in the fourth to lead 6-3 as Lovell scored single runs in each the first, second and third innings. Blake Wilson doubled home a run for the Mustangs in the second, and Bischoff doubled and scored in the third for the Lovell squad.

Kyle Wilson threw one inning in relief for Lovell, and Bischoff relieved to throw the final two frames. The relievers blanked Rawlins over the final three innings.

That relief work gave the Mustangs a chance to rally. Batting in the bottom of the seventh, Blake Wilson doubled and advanced to third on a ground out, and Bischoff was hit by a pitch. With two out, Wilson scored on a passed ball, and Tucker Jackson tripled to score Bischoff. With the tying run at third, however, a fly out ended the game in favor of Rawlins, 6-5.

Jolley took the loss, allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings on five hits and six walks, striking out two. Wilson pitched one inning of hitless ball, Bischoff two innings. Bischoff struck out six batters.

Game two saw the Mustangs jump on the Green River Knights for three runs in the top of the first inning as Cash Wassmer singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Hedges, and Lafe Files singled to score two.

Green River scored one in the bottom of the first, but the Mustangs plated two more in the top of the third to lead 5-1. The Knights got to Lovell starter Newman for six runs in the bottom of the third to lead 7-5, aided by an error and a passed ball.

“Matthew is still trying to get comfortable on the mound,” Jameson said. “He did a good job competing for us but had probably a few more walks that he would have liked.”

Lovell battled back to score one in the fifth and three more in the sixth to lead 9-7. Newman plated Wassmer to tie the score in the sixth, and Files followed with a two-run base knock.

“Lafe’s been good for us,” Jameson said. “He’s come up with some big hits with two outs and driving runs in. I think Lafe’s kind of understood what he needs to do at the plate. He’s done a good job of driving the ball up the middle. I don’t know how many times we’ve seen this year where he hits a line drive right over second base into centerfield and getting the job done. He’s done a good job of focusing on hitting the ball the other way and not trying to pull things.”

Wassmer relieved Newman in the bottom of the sixth and walked the bases loaded but struck out the next two batters. He walked in a run but struck out the final batter to preserve the 9-8 win.

“He (Wassmer) is a kid that’s a competitor and wants the ball in his hands in that situation,” Jameson said. “He’s just a competitive kid.”

Sunday games

The first game Sunday ended in a 4-4 tie between Lovell and Riverton, called after 10 innings. Lovell scored three in the top of the third to lead 3-1 as Jackson, Files and Jack Pharaoh had RBIs. The Mustangs added a run in the fifth to lead 4-1 as Blake Wilson singled to score Jackson and led 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, only to see Riverton rally for two runs to tie the score.

In extra innings, a runner was placed at second base, and one out was put on the scoreboard, but neither team could score until the game was called after three extra innings.

Bischoff started and threw 6 1/3 innings for the Mustangs, allowing four runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks while fanning 10, giving him 16 strikeouts in two games during the tournament. Jackson pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, not allowing a hit or a run, just one walk, while striking out three.

A 1-1-1 record placed Lovell in the championship game with Riverton, and the home team edged Lovell 3-2 in a defensive pitchers’ duel.

The Mustangs got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning when Hedges doubled and scored on a single by Files. Riverton matched the run in the bottom of the third, and there was no more scoring until the top of the seventh, when Lovell plated one to lead 2-1.

Riverton won the game in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out double.

Starting pitcher Blake Wilson threw six innings and allowed just one run on four hits and five walks, fanning six. Hedges took the loss in the seventh but led the team with three hits. Files had two.

“I don’t feel we’re playing up to our potential by any means,” Jameson said in summary. “I know the ability and the talent that we have. We’re just trying to figure it all out and find some consistency with the lineup — getting everybody there and getting everybody comfortable. I think we’ve got a long way to go to reach our potential. The talent and the ability is definitely there.”

Cody games

Playing in Cody for a pair of conference games Tuesday, the Mustangs split a doubleheader against the traditionally powerful Cubs, falling 11-8 and winning 12-6.

The Mustangs gave the host Cubs all they wanted in the first game. Carlos Rodriguez got Lovell going early with a first-inning home run, but Cody scored four in the bottom of the inning.

Trailing 4-1, the Mustangs scored five runs in the top of the third inning to take a 6-4 lead. Bischoff doubled and scored on an error to get the rally started. Jackson tripled to score Rodriguez, then came home on a single by Files. Two more runs scored on a single by Pharaoh and a double by Wassmer.

Rodriguez doubled and came home on a Hedges single to put Lovell up 7-4 in the top of the fourth, but Cody rallied for three in the bottom of the inning to knot the score 7-7. Lovell took the lead back, 8-7, with a run in the top of the sixth, but Cody scored four in the bottom of the inning to lead 11-8, a lead that turned into the final score when the Cubs blanked the Mustangs in the seventh inning.

Rodriguez and Jackson had three hits each for the Mustangs, Wassmer and Bischoff two apiece as Lovell out-hit Cody 15-14.

Jackson started on the hill and threw five innings for the Mustangs, allowing seven runs on 11 hits and four walks while fanning five. Hedges took the loss in relief, allowing four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning, striking out one.

In the nightcap, Lovell scored four in the top of the second inning to take the lead as Walker cleared the bases with a two-out double and scored on a fly ball error off the bat of Bischoff. Cody scored two off starter Files in the bottom of the third, but Lovell matched the Cubs with two in the top of the fourth on a two-run single by Rodriguez to lead 6-2.

The Mustangs made it 7-2 with a run in the fifth as Hedges singled, reached third on two passed balls and scored on a ground out by Owen Walker.

Down by five, Cody plated one on a home run in the bottom of the fifth, but Lovell matched the run in the top of the sixth to lead 8-3. Rodriguez relieved Files in the sixth, and Cody rallied for three runs to trail 8-6.

The Mustangs put the game on ice with four runs in the top of the seventh. Bischoff and Rodriguez hit back-to-back RBI doubles during the outburst.

Rodriguez then slammed the door on the Cubs with a shutout seventh as Lovell took the game 12-6.

Wassmer led the Lovell offensive attack with three hits in five trips to the plate including two doubles. He scored four runs and drove in three. Bischoff and Rodriguez had two hits each including a double for each, and Rodriguez matched Wassmer with three RBIs.

Files picked up the win on the mound, allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings of work on seven hits and four walks, striking out three. Rodriguez threw the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, fanning one.

Next tournament

Now 6-12 with two ties, the Mustangs will travel to a tournament in Watford City, North Dakota, June 6-9. Thursday, they play the host Watford Walleyes at 7 p.m., and on Friday Lovell will face the Froid, Montana, Bulls at 9 a.m., followed by Richland County, Montana, at 1:30. The Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canucks follow Saturday at 2 p.m., with Sunday games to be determined.

Lovell will travel
to Riverton for a doubleheader Wednesday, June 12, at 3 p.m.