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Range Riders fall one run short

by JON ALLEN
Staff Writer | May 22, 2024 12:00 AM

A trio of home runs was not enough for the Range Riders as they dropped their season opener Tuesday against the Oakland Ballers 7-6 at Glacier Bank Park.

Austin Davis finished the game 5-for-6 with four RBIs for Oakland (1-0), in the Ballers’ first Pioneer League game. He also scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball, sliding into home before Drew Sims could apply the tag.

“We got to get better defensively in terms of pitchers holding runners,” Range Riders manager Paul Fletcher said. “Just trying to slow the game down a little bit and make sure we watch what they do, make sure we know when they're running, how they are running. Just try and keep some of those guys off base.”

Sims — in his first game back from missing 2023 due to Tommy John surgery — homered out to right center to put the Range Riders (0-1) on the board in the bottom of the second.

“It was awesome getting right back to it,” Sims said. “On my first pro debut here my first hit was a double down the line and my next at-bat was a home run, so it kind of gave me a bit of a deja-vu moment.”

Nick Zegna started on the mound for the Range Riders, going 3 1-3 innings and allowing four earned runs on three hits. He walked six.

Abraham De Leon got the nod for the Ballers, and he went three innings. De Leon allowed four runs on four hits and struck out three. Derrick Cherry picked up the win for the Ballers in relief, throwing two innings and allowing no runs and no hits. He fanned three.

“Back and forth game,” Fletcher said. “They played really good defense, they came out swinging and they were aggressive running the bases. Their pitchers threw strikes and ours didn’t.”

The first home season opener did not go as planned for Glacier as Oakland took the lead in the first on a Davis double out to right center that scored Payton Harden from first. The Ballers added another run in the second when Myles Jefferson singled and brought in Trevor Halsema.

After Sims’ homer started the offense for Glacier in the second, Andy Atwood tied the game with a blast over the high wall in right field. Mason Dinesen then walked, setting up a two-run shot to left by Christian Kirtley to put Glacier ahead 4-2.

Oakland answered back with a two-run single from Davis to tie the game in the top of the fourth.

Davis added another RBI in the sixth as he doubled to left-center and Harden slid into home just before Sims could apply the tag — according to the home plate umpire, who drew the ire of the home crowd.

Oakland extended the lead in the top of the seventh as Dondrei Hubbard homered to make it 6-4. They made it 7-4 in the top of the eighth, as Davis came home on a wild pitch from Seth Pinkerton.

The Range Riders weren’t finished yet, as Ben Fitzgerald belted one over the wall in right for a two-run homer to make it 7-6.

Carson Lambert closed it down for Oakland after that, earning the six-out save and giving the Ballers their first-ever win in their inaugural game.


Oakland    110    201    110    -    7    11    0

Glacier    013    000    020    -    6    6    2

Nick Zegna and Drew Sims, Montana Quigley (4), Connor Housley (7), Seth Pinkerton (8), Jonathan Pintaro (9); Abraham De Leon and Coleton Horner, Jake Dahle (4), Derrick Cherry (6), Carson Lambert (8)

OAKLAND — Payton Harden 1-2, Austin Davis 5-6, Dan Covino 0-5, Dondrei Hubbard 1-3, Noah Martinez 1-4, Jaylen SMith 2-4, Coleton Horner 0-2, Brad Burckel 0-0, Myles Jefferson 1-3.

GLACIER  — Andy Atwood 2-4, Mason Dinesen 0-2, Chad Castillo 1-3, Ben Fitzgerald 1-4, Drew Sims 1-4, Joe McLaughlin 0-4, Gavin Tonkel 0-4, John Daly 0-3, Nick Block 0-1.

2B — Davis 2, Smith. Castillo. HR — Hubbard. Atwood, Kirtley, Sims, Fitzgerald. RBIs — Davis 4, Hubbard, Jefferson, Kirtley 2, Fitzgerald 2, Sims, Atwood .

    Glacier's Drew Sims (25) is congratulated at home plate by JD McLaughlin (7) after Sims' home run in the second inning against the Oakland Ballers at Glacier Bank Park on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Glacier shortstop Mason Dinesen (23) fields a ground ball against the Oakland Ballers at Glacier Bank Park on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Glacier shortstop Mason Dinesen (23) throws to first for an out against the Oakland Ballers at Glacier Bank Park on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Glacier's Chad Castillo (28) connects on a double against the Oakland Ballers at Glacier Bank Park on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 


    Oakland's Dondrei Hubbard connects on a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Glacier Range Riders at Glacier Bank Park in Kalispell, Montana on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Glacier second baseman Andy Atwood (21) throws to first for an out against the Oakland Ballers at Glacier Bank Park on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 


    Oakland right fielder Austin Davis (21) makes a leaping catch against the Glacier Range Riders at Glacier Bank Park in Kalispell, Montana on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 


    Oakland's Payton Harden (1) slides in ahead of the tag by Glacier Range Rider catcher Drew Sims at Glacier Bank Park in Kalispell, Montana on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 


    Oakland Ballers starting pitcher Abraham De Leon (26) delivers in the first inning against the Glacier Range Riders at Glacier Bank Park in Kalispell, Montana on Tuesday, May 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider