WAUKOMIS, Okla. —
Pioneer's Sage Lamunyon remembers last season’s regional round well, and for good reason.
The 5-foot-8 junior spent part of it trying to separate two much bigger bodies at the chaotic end to a regional championship opener between Cashion and Pioneer.
Lamunyon was on the mound to finish the game after a six-error night for the Mustangs had all but already forced a game early Saturday for a regional title and state berth. But the fireworks during Cashion’s offensive outburst in a 10-0 run-rule win had nothing on the ones that followed it.
Cashion senior Grant Quast was on second base and was rounding third to score the run-rule-clinching run when a throw from the outfield pulled Pioneer catcher Aaron Chain up the third-base line and into a collision with Quast.
Chain shoved Quast, Quast shoved Chain, benches cleared, but order was somehow restored without further incident. Lamunyon, backing up Chain in the case of an overthrown ball, had a front-row seat for the altercation.
“I just tried to get between them,” he said. “it just escalated from there.”
Blake Gabriel, who pitched to start the game, was at third when the near-brawl sparked.
“I had a pretty good angle on it,” Gabriel said. “I was just trying to get (Chain) out of there so he didn’t do something he’d regret later.”
Quast and Chain both graduated after the 2013 season, but Pioneer and Cashion share a regional bracket again, jostling with Mooreland and Drummond for a single state tournament trip when the regional round opens at noon today at Pioneer’s John D. Riesen Field.
And though the scuffle was the more sensational moment at the end of Pioneer’s 2013 season, the 7-4 loss that followed the next morning, and, more importantly, that eliminated the Mustangs short of the state tournament for the only time in their careers has stuck the most.
“(The confrontation) is the last thing we’re thinking about,” Lamunyon said. “A lot of us remember the feeling of getting beat in regionals and not getting back to (the state tournament in) Oklahoma City. That’s kinda left a bitter taste in our mouths.”
By most measures, Pioneer (33-4) is an improved team entering the regional round. The Mustangs’ bid for a fourth straight state berth last season was slowed by injuries to four starters — Colby Koontz, Brandon McNaughton, Collin Mason and Nicholas Denker. McNaughton is out again this season, unavailable since the beginning of the season with a back injury, but is Pioneer’s only starter out of the lineup.
“Cashion was a better team than us last year,” said coach David Riesen. “The better team won. Now we’re hoping that we’ll stay healthy and play good for a couple days and see what happens.”
Pioneer hasn’t lost to a team in its regional bracket, beating Class A No. 14 Drummond (23-11) twice. The Bulldogs open against 18th-ranked Cashion (12-12) at 2 p.m.
Austin Rogers (8-0) will start the Mustangs’ noon opener vs. Mooreland (18-12), which swept its district tournament last weekend, beating Ringwood 10-0 and sweeping two games from Laverne in the title series. Mooreland and Pioneer met once already this season, an 8-5 Pioneer win on March 18.
Noon - Pioneer vs. Mooreland
2 p.m. - Cashion vs. Drummond
4 p.m. - Pioneer/Mooreland winner vs. Cashion/Drummond winner
6 p.m. - Pioneer/Mooreland loser vs. Cashion/Drummond loser