Pioneers lose first, wake bats up in second


Brad Gilbert - bgilbert@civitasmedia.com



The Pioneer bench celebrates the grand slam by Jake Benolken.


Jake Benolken gives the thumbs up after his grand slam in the bottom of the second inning of game two busted the Pioneer scoring wide open as they took the 9-0 lead.


Jake Benolken’s load up before launching his second inning grand slam to give Western a big lead.


Jake Benolken’s follow grand slam follow through must have sent shivers up his spine. That ball left the yard over the right field fence in a hurry even against a very stiff wind.


Josh Anthony is already off to a hot start for the Pioneers. Anthony led off the second game with deep solo blast that ignited the Pioneers following a stagnant offensive effort in the first game.


Coach Chris Sharma checks on his catcher’s health after an throw to first got away from him.


Josh Anthony (10) tries to apply the tag on this Luna player sliding into third base.


Coach Kurt Russell speaks to his players following the double header split with Luna on Friday.


Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a highly ranked team is to lose. Hopefully, we can look back on the first loss of the season by the Pioneers in their home opener on Friday and confirm it being a positive.

Although the Pioneers out hit Luna College in game one on Friday four hits to three from Luna, Western failed to generate anything meaningful and dropped the first game in a five game set 2-1.

Carlos Pimentel was on the bump for the Pioneers and yielded only three hits in five innings before flame-throwing freshman Angel Reyes came on to hold Luna at 2-0. In the bottom of the 6th inning following Reyes ending Luna’s top half with three strikeouts, Western looked to be in business with the lead off reaching on a hit by pitch.

Before anything could build on that, the Luna left-hander picked the Pioneer off of first base. That was only one of two Pioneers picked off in that bottom of the 6th inning. Of course this killed any momentum Western had built.

“We didn’t play hungry,” said coach Kurt Russell. “We can’t cheat ourselves like that and we won’t. We have to play much smarter and understand the situations.”

Russell was understandably frustrated with players striking out with runners in scoring position throughout that game.

“Carlos (Pimentel) pitched plenty good enough for us today,” said Russell. “We have to compete better than what we did at the plate.”

Game two came with its own set of frustrations. Josh Anthony led the attack in the bottom half of the first inning with a solo shot. That is Anthony’s second on the season already.

After Jake Benolken’s hammer grand slammer to right field in the bottom half of the 2nd inning, the Pioneers were up 9-0.

“We took our foot off of the gas,” said Russell. “We can’t do that. If we are going to reach the goals we have for this season, we have to keep our foot down and never let up. We started thinking we were good again and quit going after them.”

The final was 9-4 in the second game.

The Pioneers are third in the nation in home runs already this year.

However, more telling than that is the opponents batting average is .137 good enough for second in the nation.

Western is 2-1 on the year and played games three and four Saturday at noon against Luna. Game five of the set is Sunday at noon.

Pioneers have some serious arms and good sticks and defense. This team needs some mental toughness and can’t take their ranking for granted.

“We have to continue to play like we have here for several years now,” said Russell. “We have to play hungry.”

The Pioneer bench celebrates the grand slam by Jake Benolken.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_jake-slam-3.jpgThe Pioneer bench celebrates the grand slam by Jake Benolken.

Jake Benolken gives the thumbs up after his grand slam in the bottom of the second inning of game two busted the Pioneer scoring wide open as they took the 9-0 lead.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_jake-slam.jpgJake Benolken gives the thumbs up after his grand slam in the bottom of the second inning of game two busted the Pioneer scoring wide open as they took the 9-0 lead.

Jake Benolken’s load up before launching his second inning grand slam to give Western a big lead.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_jake-slam1.jpgJake Benolken’s load up before launching his second inning grand slam to give Western a big lead.

Jake Benolken’s follow grand slam follow through must have sent shivers up his spine. That ball left the yard over the right field fence in a hurry even against a very stiff wind.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_jake-slam2.jpgJake Benolken’s follow grand slam follow through must have sent shivers up his spine. That ball left the yard over the right field fence in a hurry even against a very stiff wind.

Josh Anthony is already off to a hot start for the Pioneers. Anthony led off the second game with deep solo blast that ignited the Pioneers following a stagnant offensive effort in the first game.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_josh-taylor.jpgJosh Anthony is already off to a hot start for the Pioneers. Anthony led off the second game with deep solo blast that ignited the Pioneers following a stagnant offensive effort in the first game.

Coach Chris Sharma checks on his catcher’s health after an throw to first got away from him.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_sharma-catcher.jpgCoach Chris Sharma checks on his catcher’s health after an throw to first got away from him.

Josh Anthony (10) tries to apply the tag on this Luna player sliding into third base.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_tag.jpgJosh Anthony (10) tries to apply the tag on this Luna player sliding into third base.

Coach Kurt Russell speaks to his players following the double header split with Luna on Friday.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_team.jpgCoach Kurt Russell speaks to his players following the double header split with Luna on Friday.

Brad Gilbert

bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

Reach Brad Gilbert

@482-1221 ext. 2076

or bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

Reach Brad Gilbert

@482-1221 ext. 2076

or bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

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