Jul 14, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorComing down the final stretch of the season, the Riverton Raiders are finishing off their regular-season schedule with one eye on the prize which lies at the end of the road, namely the state tournament in Cowley on July 26-30.
The latest test for manager Troy Brown's club is a tournament in Douglas this weekend, during which they will play four games in pool play, followed by a possible championship game appearance.
It all begins on Friday with a matchup against the host Douglas Cats.
The Cats are currently 18-23 overall, with a 4-4 A East conference record and are a possible opening-round opponent for Riverton at the state tourney.
Riverton (26-16, 8-6 A West) has already played Douglas three times this season, going 2-1 in the process.
Most notable were the pair of contests the clubs played during the Roy Peck Invitational, where the Raiders were defeated by a score of 10-7, only to rebound to beat them, 11-5 in the championship game.
In that game, leadoff man and center fielder Brodie Roden was the star for the Raiders, going 2-for-2, with a grand slam and four runs batted in, reaching base safely in all four of his plate appearances.
Roden also hurled 4 2/3 scoreless innings on the mound to help preserve the win and the tournament title.
On Saturday, the opposition will be provided by the Cheyenne Hawks and Lovell Mustangs at 9 and 11:30 a.m., respectively.
Lovell is an A West conference opponent the Raiders have gone 3-2 against this season, with the latest result a 12-2 win at a tournament in Billings, Montana last weekend.
Riverton ace Dalton Baldes pitched a complete game, striking out eight Mustangs in the process, while Josiah Washington had two hits, including a double and a pair of runs batted in to lead the offense.
The Raiders have faced neither Cheyenne nor their Sunday opponent, Wheatland, this season.
Alex Fabricus is the club's leading hitter with a sparkling .444 batting average, to go along with a team-leading on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.226 and 40 RBI.
Not far behind is third baseman Cody Frazier, who is second on the squad with a .426 batting average and a team-high 41 runs batted in.
Riverton is hitting .365 as a team on the season.
Roden leads the Raiders with seven home runs on the current campaign and is hitting .415, utilizing a combination of speed and power atop the lineup, having stolen 27 bases, only being caught twice, while playing a stellar center field.
In fact, the Raiders have run roughshod on the basepaths all season, stealing 123 bases in all, as Kyren Higgs (18), Frazier (17), Alex Fabricus (12) and Baldes (12) all join Roden in double-digit thefts to go with a club total of 15 home runs on the season.
Frazier has also shown an uncanny eye and patience at the plate, drawing 39 bases-on-balls to lead Riverton.
On the mound, Baldes has an 8-1 record, a 2.61 earned-run average and 70 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings.
Roden and Matt Fisher have both posted five victories apiece, with Dalton Lassiter and Dillon Fabricus winning two each, while Dillon Lange, Jereko Martinez and Higgs have also won a game.
The tournament is set up with the winners of both pools facing each other in the championship game on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
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