The wait is over. It took three games of heartbreak, but the Hastings Sodbusters finally notched their first victory of the season.
Some early offense and commanding pitching powered Hastings to a 6-3 win over Western Nebraska, the Expedition League’s runner-up last season.
“That was getting the monkey off your back,” said Hastings head coach Bill Clay. “It was a really good win. We only got two hits, but we took advantage of the base on balls and things like that. Certainly, I wasn’t happy to only get two hits, but all I care about was the W. When you win, all you care about is the W. It doesn’t matter how you get it. That’s why you play the game... I felt relieved.”
Unfortunately for the Sodbusters, they could not complete the sweep, in a disappointing nightcap. Hastings outhit Western Nebraska, but five errors paved the way for the Pioneers to take the game 11-4 Monday at Duncan Field.
“Five errors again, bad base running — we just played a bad ball game. I told the kids we have to step it up a notch,” Clay said. “We’re going to step it up a notch; it’s not going to guarantee anything, but hopefully you will see us play the game harder.”
Hastings’ Jeremy Schneider got the start on the mound in game one and tossed three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three. With the Sodbusters scoring three runs in the first inning, Clay said it was a big mental lift to have Schneider pitching so effectively early in the game.
“I thought Jeremy did good; I thought all of the pitchers did fairly well in the first game,” Clay said. “Jeremy is going to be a good one for us, I promise you.”
The Sodbusters took advantage of early command issues for Western Nebraska starter Mikito Barkman, who walked the first two Hastings hitters before allowing an infield single to Grant Schmidt to load the bases. Barkman continued to pitch outside the zone as he walked Mike Decker to force in the game’s first run.
Ryan McDonald then delivered the big hit, a two-run single to put Hastings up 3-0 before ever recording an out.
Clay has said he wants to bring an aggressive mentality to the team, especially on the basepaths. He wants to put pressure on the defense and force mistakes. That plan came to fruition in the second inning.
With one out and runners on first and second, the Sodbusters’ Dylan Herd and Casey Burnham both broke on a double steal. Western Nebraska catcher Josh Davis launched the ball into left field trying to get the runner at third, which allowed Herd to trot home for the score.
Hastings tacked on two more runs in the fourth, scoring on a bases loaded walk to Schmidt and a fielder’s choice by Decker. The pair of scores pushed the Sodbuster lead to 6-0 heading into the fifth inning.
Control began to be a concern for Hastings, as Will Richardson plunked the first three batters of the fifth, loading the bases full of Pioneers. After Richardson struck out Kai Alberhghini for the first out, Ethan Loveless plated two with a single to left.
In the sixth inning, Hastings’ Ray Ray Douglas walker three batters in the inning, with one scoring from third on a wild pitch to make it a 6-3 ballgame.
Power arm Jay Alvarez took over on the mound and retired the first hitter he faced to get out of the sixth. He then struck out three of the five he faced in the seventh to clinch the Sodbusters’ first victory.
The Sodbusters will now embark on a long road trip, with the first of eight games being on Wednesday at Fremont. The Moo took all three games of the season’s opening series in Hastings. The ‘Busters will also travel to Pierre, S.D., and Gering to face the Pioneers. Hastings’ next game at Duncan Field will be July 9.
In game two, the Sodbusters tied the game at 3-apiece in the third with a two-run single by Tayten Tredaway — who also smashed a triple and scored Hastings’ first run. But in the top of the fourth, Sodbuster miscues helped bolster a five-run inning for the Pioneers.
Western Nebraska scored in six of the seven innings to win 11-4.
Tredaway totaled three hits in the game while Decker and Braden Sellon each had two. Sellon also drove in a pair of runs.
W. Nebraska (2-2)....000 021 0 — 3 3 3
Hastings (1-3)...........310 200 X — 6 2 1
W — Jeremy Schneider. L — Mikito Barkman.
W. Nebraska (3-2)..111 510 2 — 11 9 0
Hastings (1-4).........021 000 1 — 4 10 5
W — Michael Callia. L — Christian Colemenares.
2B — H, Casey Burnham, Mike Decker.
3B — H, Tayten Tredaway.
3B — H, Tayten Tredaway.
Hastings Parks and Rec softball
Little Ceasars 26, Godfather’s/Glasco 12
Fastenal 18, Little Ceasars 17
Miscues 2, Hastings E-Free 14
Hastings Keno 4, Miscues 18