Jun 14, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorKyren Higgs's go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning propelled Riverton to a 5-3 come-from-behind home victory against the Mustangs.
Kyren Higgs stood at the plate at Roy Peck Field late Tuesday afternoon as the sun began to sink in the western sky.
He had a rake in his hands and was dutifully manicuring the dirt around the dish with the precision of a master groundskeeper.
However, only moments earlier in that very same spot, the slick-fielding Riverton second baseman was busy with a different kind of work altogether -- and with a bat in his hands.
Higgs hit a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning to propel his Raiders teammates to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory against visiting Lovell in an American Legion A West conference battle.
Until that point in the proceedings, things looked mighty grim for the home side, as they had already dropped the opener of the doubleheader and were on the verge of being swept off their own diamond by the black-clad visitors.
Lovell had jumped out to an early, 2-0 first-inning lead on a two-run homer to left-center field off the bat of Jeremy Schneider, taking Raiders starter Dalton Baldes for a ride over the fence.
As has been the case this season on many occasions, the Riverton defense was leaky, committing two errors in the top of the first alone, which opened the floodgates for a Mustangs strike.
However, Baldes wasn't unnerved by the early long ball and settled down, retiring the side without allowing another run through three, until Lovell's Riley Hill bombed a solo blast to increase the Mustangs' advantage to 3-0.
Still, Blades soldiered on, continuing to get outs, waiting for his teammates to pick him up with some run support.
But, not before the Mustangs scratched across another marker on a pair of base hits in the top of the sixth, increasing the lead to 4-0.
Schneider had been equally as effective on the mound, cruising through the first five innings without allowing a run on his way to a complete-game, nine-strikeout, 97-pitch performance in addition to his opening-frame home run.
Finally, the Raiders found an opening in the bottom of the sixth as they stared imminent defeat in the face, with only six outs to do something about it.
Brodie Roden led off with a single, followed by another from Cody Frazier to put men at first and second with no outs and Alex Fabricus at the plate.
Fabricus added to his club-leading RBI total with a single to left, which brought Roden home to ruin Schneider's shutout bid, but it seemed small consolation for the Raiders at that point.
Josiah Washington was caught looking for the first out, with Frazier out at third on an attempted steal and just like that, the Mustangs were an out away from preserving their lead.
However, Jared Draper was hit by a pitch after Matt Fisher had drawn a walk, bringing up Higgs with the bases loaded.
Higgs swung and missed at Schneider's first offering, then took a ball, setting the stage for a 1-1 pitch he crushed over the left-field fence, chasing home all three runners, who waited for him at the plate with the entire squad who had stormed out of the home dugout to greet their new home run hero.
With one swing, Higgs had undone Schneider's masterclass and the Raiders had a 5-4 lead heading into the top of the seventh.
Now, it was up to Baldes to finish off his own strong outing, who only needed 14 pitches to close the deal, striking out the final Lovell batter for his 10th of the game, needing 105 pitches, without allowing any bases-on-balls on his way to victory.
According to Riverton manager Troy Brown, his club showed resolve in rebounding from the sloppy opening-game loss, then falling behind early in the second contest following yet more defensive blunders.
"Winning the second game was definitely a relief," said Brown. "Because we play these guys again soon, so to come out with a victory was big."
Riverton managed only four hits in the game, but Higgs' blast was as big as any this season.
Lovell 8, Riverton 6
In the opener, the Mustangs capitalized on four Riverton errors to score four unearned runs in an 8-6 victory.
Lovell carried a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the third, when the home side struck back with four runs to take a 5-3 lead.
Frazier singled, followed by an Alex Fabricus double to put runners on second and third, before Washington, Dillon Fabricus, Draper and Dalton Lassiter all contributed RBI singles.
However, the Mustangs bounced back with three runs in the sixth and an insurance marker in the seventh to secure victory.
Brown was none too pleased with his club's misadventures in the field.
"Basically, we handed them the game," he said. "When you allow four unearned runs, you're not going to win many games."
Frazier was 3-for-4 with a double in the losing effort.
Riverton (13-7, 5-3 A West) will next head to Green River for a tournament this weekend.
Lovell 1 0 2 0 1 3 1 -- 8
Riverton 1 0 4 0 0 1 0 -- 6
Lovell - Mangus, 0-4; Forcella, 2-4, 2B; Schneider, 3-4, 2 RBI; Hill, 1-4, RBI; Hessenthaler, 2-4, RBI; Dickerson, 2-4, 2 RBI; Vasquez, 1-2; Gayton, 0-4, RBI; Wambeke, 0-4.
Riverton - Roden, 1-5, 2B; Frazier, 3-4, 2B; A. Fabricus, 2-2, 2B, RBI; Washington, 2-4, 2 RBI; D. Fabricus, 1-3, RBI; Baldes, 0-1; Higgs, 0-4; Lassiter, 2-3, RBI; Fisher, 1-3.
Lovell 2 0 0 1 0 1 0 -- 4
Riverton 0 0 0 0 0 5 x -- 5
Lovell - Dickerson, 0-4; Forcella, 1-3; Schneider, 2-3, HR, 3 RBI; Hill, 1-3, HR, RBI; Hessenthaler, 1-3; Vasquez, 0-3; Rivera, 0-3; Mangus, 1-3; Wambeke, 0-3.
Riverton - Roden, 1-3; Frazier, 1-2; A. Fabricus, 1-3, RBI; Washington, 0-3; D. Fabricus, 0-2; Fisher, 0-0, BB; Draper, 0-2; Higgs, 1-4, HR, 4 RBI; Lassiter, 0-2; Baldes, 0-2.
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