Game two of the 3 game series against the Casper Horseheads was certainly not as easy as game one, but in front of 1207 fans at Oregon Trail Park Stadium, the Pios walked off winners in an electric 9-7 ballgame.
Casper opened the scoring in the top of the 2nd inning on an RBI double, but the Pios would answer on JT Waldon’s first extra base hit of the year, a double into left center field. Scoring continued in the 4th when Casper took another 1 run lead when Brooks Browning’s RBI double was inches away from clearing the fence. But again, the Pios would answer in the bottom of the 5th tying it at 2 when Clay Cutter beat out a potential double play and reached first allowing the run to score.
Though the game was tied at 2 entering the 7th, the Pios had only 2 hits compared to the Horsehead’s 3. The final 3 innings would change that rate dramatically, as Casper’s 2 run top of the 7th would be answered by 3 more Western Nebraska runs, highlighted by a solo shot from Waldon. The Pios added an insurance run and were 3 outs away from victory leading 6-4 going into the 9th.
Casper wouldn’t go down without a fight as the Horseheads plated 3 to take the lead after a one out, 2 RBI bloop single from Cristian Lopez, and the momentum shifted completely heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Owen Vanthillo, who attends school at WNCC in Scottsbluff, went back out to pitch the bottom of the ninth and try to earn the win. After a ground out and strikeout he was one pitch away from securing the victory, and the last hope for the Pioneers stood in the form of Cade McGee. After an electric at-bat from the soon to be Gonzaga Bulldog, a 3-2 pitch was shot over the left field wall to tie the game. The Pioneers dugout erupted and didn’t stop there. Tyler Davis worked another 2-out, 3-2 count before roping a double into centerfield, and Daulton Frank stepped up with a chance to win the game.
It was almost poetic as Frank had made 3 mistakes defensively on the night, had a chance to redeem himself at the plate in a recently tied game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He saw a heavy serving of curveballs from Vanthillo, before sending a 2-2 breaking ball over the left field fence to walk it off with a 9-7 win.
“I knew I was gonna see a lot of breaking balls that at-bat, I really wasn’t trying to do to much because I knew a single would win the game, I was just trying to get a barrel on it,” Frank humbly said, after he got quite the barrel to send the walkoff homer over the left field wall to give his team the victory. The Pios advance to 9-4 and have a chance to sweep the series over the Horseheads on Thursday night at 6:35. The live broadcast is on YouTube, with the radio stream on KNEB 960 AM/100.3 FM.