It was not a short night at the office for the Western Nebraska Pioneers in Spearfish on Thursday night as they opened up the best of three Independence League Championship Series. But they made the most of it.
It took 15 innings but the Pios were able to snatch a 1-0 series lead with a 11-3 win over over the Sasquatch in a game that lasted exactly five hours!
The star of the show for the Pioneers was pitcher Paul Panduro. The former Bearcat, Zephyr, and Cougar, who plays at Pittsburg State (KS), came on in relief in the bottom of the ninth inning and proceeded to throw seven innings of two hit, shutout baseball and Panduro struck out 15 hitters along the way. Of the 21 outs he recorded 15 came via the strikeout.
Obviously it took a while in extra innings but eventually the Pioneers offense had had enough as they posted the eight runs in the fifteenth inning. The Pios scored three runs on guys getting hit by a pitch in the inning and Eric Smelko drove in a pair with a single as they sent 12 men to the plate in the frame.
Declan Wiesner had the big night at the dish, finishing with four hits, two runs scored and a pair of RBI. Smelko and Ty Mead also drove in two runs in the victory.
With the win the Pioneers now have two opportunities to close the series out at home. Game two will be Saturday night at Oregon Trail Park Stadium starting at 6:35 with the if-necessary game three on Sunday scheduled for 5:35.
Jake Sirkus will have the broadcast tomorrow night on KNEB AM 960/100.3 FM starting at 6:20 pm.