The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 24, 2014

Pioneer KOs district foes

By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

WAUKOMIS, Okla. —  In the run-up to Thursday’s Class A district-round games, Pioneer pitcher Austin Rogers, already 7-0 and anxiously awaiting the start of the postseason, said he looked forward to pitching with the added pressure.

He’ll have to wait a little longer for the pressure part.

Rogers and fifth-ranked Pioneer easily advanced to within a win of a district title behind the Mustangs’ second gargantuan second inning of the day, bowling over Frontier 14-0 after a 14-1 win a game earlier against Garber.

Neither game was close after Pioneer’s second-inning outbursts, an 11-run rally fueling the win against Garber in Thursday’s second game, and a 12-run frame in the nightcap setting up the hosts’ second four-inning run rule of the day.

“You’re more relaxed knowing you have that big lead, and you have your fielders behind you,” Rogers said. “You can pitch more relaxed, let them hit the ball.”

Frontier didn’t hit many. Rogers allowed a single against the first batter he faced, but never a second, striking out eight of Frontier’s final 13 batters including five straight in the second and third. The junior righthander finished the game on a high fastball that Frontier’s Tristan Harris, like most of his teammates on Thursday, couldn’t catch.

“When he throws like that, under those circumstances, he’s really tough,” said Pioneer head coach David Riesen. “He’s been a really good pitcher for us all year. He’s kind of a presence out there, a big, strong kid, and he was on today.”

Rogers’ performance was plenty more than Pioneer needed.

The Mustangs were retired in order on seven pitches from Frontier starter P.J. Burnett in the first inning, but Pioneer’s first five batters reached base on a walk, hit and three errors to open the second. A Sage Lamunyon sacrifice fly provided the first out in the inning, but bumped Pioneer’s lead to 4-0. A Kamen Lounsbury RBI single pushed the lead to 5-0 and started a march of six-straight base hits, chasing Burnett in favor of Harris, a change that hardly helped. The Mustangs sent 17 batters to the plate in the inning to lead 12-0, a lead that never was challenged. Pioneer added two more in the fourth on an RBI triple by Lounsbury and an error to reach the final margin.

“The main thing is we came out and took care of business,” Riesen said. “That was important for us, to just come out and do our jobs. We did that.”

Garber, which was eliminated after its two losses, finished its season at 1-18.

Pioneer (32-4) and Frontier (8-14), which beat Garber 9-4 in Thursday’s opener, will play for the district title today starting at 4 p.m. Pioneer will advance to the regional round with a win, and Frontier would need to win at 4 p.m. to force a 6 p.m. game for the title.

Skyler Bartel (6-1) is scheduled to start today’s opener for Pioneer.