Jul 12, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorCody Frazier and Kyren Higgs each had three hits in an 8-7 home victory against the Troopers.
It wasn't pretty, but it isn't always -- and it doesn't have to be.
As long as you win.
That's exactly what the Riverton Raiders did Tuesday during the first game of their American Legion doubleheader against visiting Sheridan at Roy Peck Field.
After a game in which the home side committed seven errors -- three on one play -- it was the Troopers who committed the final gaffe of the game.
Sheridan hurler Blake King uncorked a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded, which eluded catcher Race Johnston and dribbled all the way to the backstop, allowing Dalton Lassiter to sprint home with the winning run in an 8-7 victory over the perennial AA powerhouse program.
It proved a fitting end to a game which hung in the balance the entire seven innings, as each side matched the other in the linescore for the first three frames, scoring two, three and zero runs each for a 5-5 contest entering the fourth.
That was when the clubs' paths began to diverge, as the Troopers scratched across a marker in the top of the inning off Riverton starter Dalton Baldes, who kept the Raiders in the game.
Sheridan's Nolan McCafferty homered off Baldes with the bases empty in the top of the sixth to draw the teams level at 7-7.
However, the Raiders' defense was the collective culprit the next inning.
During one particularly ugly sequence in the top of the seventh, Riverton betrayed closer Alex Fabricus with a series of blunders when King was at the plate.
After getting two quick outs in relief of Baldes, who had thrown a gutty 120 pitches over six innings, Frazier fielded a grounder at third off the bat of King which would have been the final out, only to pull Baldes off the bag at first.
Baldes then made a bad throw to second, which left fielder Jaren Draper then threw away trying to get King, who advanced all the way to third on the play.
Fabricus quickly recovered, getting ahead of the next hitter, Coy Steel, 0-2 before inducing a fly ball to Brodie Roden in center to retire the side.
According to Raiders manager Troy Brown, Fabricus came up big once again in a clutch situation.
"Alex has been huge for us all season," said Brown. "We have a lot of guys who are willing to to play wherever we put them."
It seemed as if whoever made the last mistake of the game would lose, and that's exactly what happened in the bottom of the seventh.
Lassiter led off with an infield single and was advanced to second by a fielder's choice from Matt Fisher. Roden struck out, leaving the contest precariously close to requiring extra innings to decide the issue.
However, Kyren Higgs banged his third hit of the game on a one-strike pitch, with Brown electing to hold Lassiter as he rounded third with the potential game-winning run.
Brown said the decision was a no-brainer.
"Their center fielder has a cannon for an arm. Besides, we had one of our best contact hitters in Cody (Frazier) up next."
All's well that ends well, as Lassiter scampered home with the game-winner only two pitches later.
Frazier led the Riverton offense, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBI, while Higgs was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in.
Sheridan 17, Riverton 5
In the nightcap, it was much of the same, much of the way, as the clubs traded blows for the first five innings with the score tied at 5-5 entering the sixth.
Lassiter had gone 4 1/3 innings, allowing only three earned runs on six hits, matching wits with Sheridan's Austin Borzenski, who three 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Caleb Keller, who didn't make it out of the second.
The Raiders offense had gotten to Keller with four runs in the second, highlighted by a Josiah Washington RBI double that plated Frazier, who had reached earlier on an error, for a 5-2 advantage.
However, the Troopers came right back in the top of the third with three runs of their own, which left the contest deadlocked at 5-5, as no runs were scored by either side the next two innings.
Sheridan finally broke through against Frazier and Draper, scoring six runs in each of the final two frames for final score more befitting a football game.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, Brown was pleased with how his squad performed for the first five innings.
"We held our own against one of the best programs in the state," said Brown. "But, we were short on pitching there at the end with all the innings guys had thrown over the weekend. Cody and Jaren both did a good job getting us through it."
Washington finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in on the day.
Riverton (26-16, 8-6 A West) travels to Douglas for a tournament beginning with a game against the Cats on Friday, followed by contests with the Cheyenne Hawks and Lovell on Saturday.
Sheridan 2 3 0 1 0 1 0 -- 7
Riverton 2 3 0 2 0 0 1 -- 8
Sheridan - King, 1-3; Steel, 2-5, 2 RBI; Shanor, 0-3; McCafferty, 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Eisele, 1-2; Gustafson, 0-4; Jorgenson, 0-4; Rattey, 0-3; Johnston, 1-2; Boint, 0-2.
Riverton - Roden, 1-4, 2B; Higgs, 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Frazier, 3-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI; A. Fabricus, 2-4; Washington, 1-4, RBI; D. Fabricus, 0-4; Draper, 2-3; Lassiter, 2-4; Fisher, 0-3.
Sheridan 1 1 3 0 0 6 6 -- 17
Riverton 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 -- 5
Sheridan - King, 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Shanor, 1-3, 2B, RBI; McCafferty, 1-4, RBI; Eisele, 1-4, RBI; Gustafson, 2-4, 3 RBI; Brooks, 2-3; Steel, 3-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Keller, 0-1; Borzenski, 1-3, RBI; Boint, 1-4, 2B, RBI.
Riverton - Roden, 1-4; Higgs, 1-2; Frazier, 0-3, 2 RBI; A. Fabricus, 1-4, RBI; Washington, 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; D. Fabricus, 0-3; Draper, 0-4; Baldes, 0-3; Fisher, 2-4.
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