May 25, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorA total of 25 bases-on-balls led to a marathon Babe Ruth game between Fremont County rivals.
Or, at least that's what it seemed as if we were headed toward when Lander put up eight runs in the top of the first inning against the Yankees in their Babe Ruth game in Riverton on Wednesday.
But, the home club had other ideas.
The Yankees bounced right back with four runs of their own to halve the early deficit to 8-4 in the bottom of the first, but alas, the visitors kept scoring and although the Bombers did their best to keep up, were never able to wrest control away from their green-clad county rivals in an 18-15 defeat.
Lander sent 11 men to the plate in the first against Yankees starter Isaac Strauna, highlighted by a bases-loaded triple by cleanup hitter Nick Kulow, which made the score 4-0 before an out was even recorded.
Ridge Barrett and Connor Carey added RBI doubles to put the cherry on top of the opening frame snowman, making it 8-0.
However, in the bottom of the first, Blake Dale singled after a Strauna leadoff walk, followed by a Derick Lange single.
Caleb Crowley struck out, but reached on a dropped third strike, before Riley Goff smashed a double to drive in a pair of runs and it was 8-2.
Jared Lucas' base hit then plated Crowley and Goff and just like that, the Yankees were halfway out of the hole they had dug for themselves only a half-inning earlier.
But, from there the game degenerated into a series of bases-on-balls and sloppy defense as the sides exchanged blows inning after inning like a heavyweight fight full of punches, but without a killing blow.
Lander scored five more runs in the top of the second, with the Yankees adding three more of their own in the bottom half of the frame, leaving the game 13-7 with a scoreline more suited for Wolverines-Tigers football than a baseball game.
In the top of the third inning, Dale took the mound with the ball in his hand and a purpose in his mind -- to shut down the noisy bats which had tormented his team to that point in the game.
Mission accomplished, as Lander failed to score in two of the next three innings and only put up single markers in their final two at-bats, as Dale and Goff combined to hold the visitors in check the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, their teammates were still fighting their way back into the contest.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees loaded the bases, on a walk to Lucas, followed by singles from Hayden Hanger and Kayden Graham before Strauna drew a free pass to force home a run.
Ethen Vaughn then strode to the plate and lashed a double, driving in two runs in the process and suddenly the score was 16-14.
After Dale kept Lander off the board again in the top of the fifth, the Yankees rolled up their sleeves and went back to work with the bats, scoring another run to close the gap to 16-15.
However, that was as close as the home team would get in a game which featured 25 bases-on-balls and required three-and-a-half hours to complete.
Lander added a run each in the top of the sixth and seventh innings, then held off the Yankees in their final at-bat, with Kulow retiring the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure victory.
Lander 8 5 0 3 0 1 1 -- 18
Yankees 4 3 4 3 1 0 0 -- 15
Lander - Fawson, 1-2, 2B; Grogan, 0-2; Casey, 1-3, 2B; Hitchew, 3-4, 2 2B; Kulow, 2-3, 3B; D. Bell, 0-2; Kolinski, 0-2; Richardson, 0-4; Rognor, 2-3; Sawick, 1-1; Macy, 0-2; Barrett, 1-2; Gist, 0-2.
Yankees - Strauna, 0-2, 3 BB; Vaughn, 2-5, 2B; Dale, 4-4, 2B; Lange, 1-4; Crowley, 0-3, 2 BB; Goff, 1-5, 2B; Lucas, 1-3, 2 BB; Hanger, 2-3; Graham, 2-4.
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