Jul 16, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorSomething special has been in the air this spring and summer for Fremont County baseball.
Or, perhaps the water.
Maybe both -- or neither.
All I know is there has been some fine baseball played across the various venues at all levels and it's only gotten better as the weather has (coincidence? .. hmm, let me think -- no!).
Anyway, we'll begin at the Little League level, where there has been much excitement as all-star clubs from Riverton and Lander gear up for runs at the District 1 tournament next weekend.
Last year, the District 1 tourney was hosted by Riverton's Saban Little League Complex. That was one of the most enjoyable events I've covered during my two years on the Fremont County sports beat.
Take all the festiveness and excitement of a normal, regular-season evening at Saban, crank it up several notches, and that's what we had last summer as clubs from across western Wyoming battled for a berth at the state tournament.
This year, said event will be in Green River, with Riverton and Lander sending strong sides to compete for a right to advance.
At the American Legion level, the Riverton Raiders have had a renaissance season under first-year manager Troy Brown, sitting at 29-16 on the current campaign, highlighted by a victory at their home tournament, the Roy Peck Invitational in June. That included a victory against Douglas in the championship game, which avenged an earlier loss at the hands of the Cats in pool play of the event.
Now, as they head down the final stretch of the regular season, with the state tournament looming tantalizingly on the horizon, the Raiders have continued to play well.
What strikes me most about this squad is the selflessness the guys show game-in, game-out, with everyone on the roster willing to play any position on the field at any given time when called upon.
For example, third baseman Cody Frazier, one of the state's finest hot-corner men, has found himself on the mound and in the outfield as well at various times this season.
Once starting catcher Anthony Allen was lost for the season to injury, Alex Fabricus has caught the majority of the innings, which only gets tougher as the temperatures go up.
In fact, Fabricus, at last count, had played almost every position on the diamond, but he hasn't let defensive uncertainty derail him at the plate. He has led the club in runs batted in the entire season, with Frazier close behind.
Anyone who's ever played baseball at any level knows what a challenge it can be mentally not to carry a bad at-bat out into the field or try to make up for an error at the plate.
Well, these lads have done a fine job of managing both, as has the entire club.
It's the kind of versatility which will serve them well when there are nine-inning games to grind out day after day at the state tournament in Cowley in a few weeks.
By the way, is there any reason at all why after playing seven inning contests all season, we're suddenly bumping it up to nine?
A conversation for another column.
Finally, perhaps the best for last.
Riverton's Babe Ruth 15-and-under all-stars made the relatively short (as in Wyoming-close-anything-under-500-miles) journey right down the road to Casper for the state tournament seeking their fourth consecutive state crown.
As we write this, the local lads are one game away from a four-peat, having defeated Newcastle, Casper, Gillette and Douglas on their way to a rematch with Newcastle in Sunday's championship game. Newcastle will certainly be out for revenge after a 10-0 beatdown by Riverton in Wednesday's opener, then battling all the way back through the losers' bracket to gain a chance a redemption.
Catch it while you can before it's gone and it starts snowing again.
Baseball, baseball and guess what? More baseball this week!
Brodie Roden, Riverton,
The Raiders' version of Rickey Henderson (if you don't know, ask someone older than you) was at again on Saturday, providing his usual blend of speed and power at the top of the Riverton lineup.
Roden was a combined 4-for-7 with a pair of doubles and seven runs batted in during victories against Cheyenne and Lovell at a tournament in Douglas, helping propel his club to the verge of a title game berth on Sunday.
Roden actually failed to get a hit in Friday's 7-3 win over Douglas, but excuse him, as he fired 112 pitches from the mound, coming within a single out of a complete-game victory.
Riverton Babe Ruth
Truempler has saved some of his best clutch hitting for when it counts most, smacking a pair of run-scoring doubles in Wednesday's 10-0 opening win over Newcastle, then adding another in Saturday's 5-3 victory against Gillette.
All three of Truempler's doubles have driven in a pair of runs each, making them even more valuable to the cause and giving him a club-leading nine in the postseason.
Blake Dale, Riverton
Babe Ruth all-stars
Certain athletic accomplishments will gain automatic No. 1 star-of-the-week status and pitching a no-hitter at a state tournament certainly meets the criteria, which is exactly what Dale did in a 10-0 tourney-opening victory over Newcastle in Casper on Wednesday.
Only a hit batter prevented Dale from completing a perfect game, as he struck out 12 of the 16 batters he faced, setting down the side on strikes in both the second and fifth innings, the latter to close the game in dominating fashion with the opposition not knowing what hit them in the process.
Very cool, indeed.
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