Jun 21, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorRiverton's high-flying offense was grounded by the Troopers in a double road defeat.
Riverton's American Legion baseball club knew they had a tough task ahead of them on Tuesday, traveling north to take on double-A Sheridan in a doubleheader.
After all, Sheridan had entered the contest with an overall record of 26-12 in the rugged AA east, which also features perennial powerhouses Gillette and Cheyenne.
Still, the single-A visitors were riding a wave of confidence unlike any they've experienced in some time, having just swept aside all four of their weekend opponents in winning the Knights Invitational in Green River.
However, the upward improvement curve the club is currently on isn't without its fair share of bumps in the road, the latest of which was a double setback in both ends of the twinbill by scores of 10-2 and 14-4.
It looked initially as if the red-clad Raiders would continue their current run of good form, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning of the second game.
With two outs already, the Riverton offense suddenly sprang to life, as Josiah Washington singled to left, only for Dillon Fabricus to be hit by a pitch.
Dalton Baldes then banged an infield hit to load the bases. Riverton was in business as Jaren Draper stepped into the box.
He doubled to left, plating Washington and Fabricus for a quick 2-0 advantage. Baldes advanced to third, then scored on a wild pitch before Draper also crossed the plate on a Dalton Lassiter single for a 4-0 lead.
What began so brightly for the visitors was quickly washed away, with the rainstorm that delayed the game symbolic of their struggles the rest of the way, as the opening-inning outburst ended up being Riverton's only offense of the afternoon.
Sheridan scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, then four more in the second to take the lead, on its way to runs in every frame until the game was called after five via the 10-run rule.
Baldes was 2-for-3, while Draper had a pair of runs batted in for Riverton.
Raiders manager Troy Brown was duly impressed with the day's opposition.
"Sheridan is by far the best team we've played this season," said Brown. "They're definitely a premier program which has good contact hitters and guys who can go and make plays."
Sheridan 10, Riverton 2
In the opener, the result was no more encouraging, as the Raiders fell by a final count of 10-2.
Lassiter, who had sparkled in his last outing, a complete-game victory against Rock Springs on Friday, had reversed fortunes this time around, allowing 10 runs on 11 hits over four innings.
Just as in the opener, the Raiders struck with a first-inning run after Brodie Roden led off the game with a single, then came around to score on a Fabricus double.
The lead was short-lived, as the Troopers came right back with five runs in the bottom of the first before adding another five in the third.
The Raiders managed only five hits in the game, including Dillon Lange's fifth-inning homer, his first of the season.
For Brown, the games provided his club with a glimpse of what to aspire to be.
"It gives us a goal and shows us where we want to be as a program," said Brown. "I like playing teams that allow us to gauge ourselves. We could simply keep playing the teams in our league and leave it at that, but you only get better by challenging yourself. We're not there yet, but we're not far away."
Riverton (17-9, 5-3 A West) plays a conference doubleheader in Lovell on Thursday, then go to Rawlins for a non-league pair on Saturday.
Riverton 4 0 0 0 0 x x -- 4
Sheridan 2 4 2 5 1 x x -- 14
Riverton - Roden, 0-3; Lucas, 1-3; Washington, 2-3; D. Fabricus, 0-1; Baldes, 2-3; Draper, 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI; Lassiter, 1-2, RBI; Lange, 0-2; Muehler, 1-2, 2B.
Riverton 1 0 0 0 1 x x -- 2
Sheridan 5 0 5 0 x x x -- 10
Riverton - Roden, 1-3; Fisher, 0-3; Washington, 0-3; D. Fabricus, 1-2, 2B, RBI; Baldes, 0-2; Lange, 1-2, HR, RBI; Hinkle, 0-1; Muehler, 1-2.
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