Jul 23, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorA pair of home conference victories against Green River to close the regular season secured the second spot at the state tournament.
As the Riverton Raiders crossed the lines at Roy Peck Field for the opener of a doubleheader against conference opponents Green River on Friday, they had a single goal in mind.
Winning one of the two contests would clinch a No. 2 seed at next week's American Legion A state tournament in Cowley, and that's exactly what they did.
In fact, manager Troy Brown's club not only achieved its objective with a 12-5 victory in the opener, then added a decisive 16-3 victory in the second game.
It wasn't without some early struggles, as the Riverton offense took awhile to get untracked in the opening innings of the first game, trailing 1-0 after three frames.
Brown said he didn't know what to make of his squad's malaise.
"I'm not sure what was going on," he said. "Whether it was the heat, a lack of desire, I don't know."
But, shortly thereafter, the real Raiders stood up, manufacturing a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 2-1 advantage.
Dillon Fabricus walked to lead off, followed by a Jaren Draper hit-by-pitch before Dalton Baldes moved both runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt, followed by a Matt Fisher walk and a Brodie Roden fielder's choice brought home a pair of runs.
But the Knights weren't ready to go quietly, answering with four markers of their own in the top of the fifth to regain the lead at 5-2.
No worries, though, as Riverton scored 10 unanswered runs over the next two innings, punctuated by an Alex Fabricus homer leading off the sixth to secure victory.
According to Brown, clinching the coveted higher seed at state in the first game was important.
"It was huge to get that out of the way," said Brown. "Although with the way the boys have handled pressure all season, it wasn't a worry."
So, following the victory, Brown gathered his troops along the right-field line for a conference in between contests.
His message was clear.
"I told them we can't wait to put our foot on the gas pedal," said Brown. "We need to hit the field with intensity."
Roden, Higgs and Alex Fabricus all had a pair of hits each in the victory, while Roden pitched a complete game on the mound, throwing 103 pitches and striking out five.
Riverton 16, Green River 3
Brown's message must have hit home with his club, as the Raiders scored nine runs in the bottom of the first and didn't look back on their way to a 16-3 win in the second game.
Green River plated a pair in the top of the first, but that advantage was quickly quashed by the home side's outburst in their half of the inning.
Four consecutive bases on balls to Roden, Cody Frazier, Kyren Higgs and Alex Fabricus forced in the first Riverton run, followed by a two-run double by Josiah Washington and an RBI single by Dillon Fabricus to make it 4-2. Washington stole home, and it was 5-2 with still no outs.
Roden and Frazier added run-scoring singles, and it was 9-2 after one.
A seven-run assault in the second inning put the game out of reach for the visitors, with the highlight an Alex Fabricus double to score a pair.
Dillon Fabricus was 3-for-4, while Washington went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles to lead the Riverton offense.
Baldes struck out seven in a 78-pitch complete-game win on the mound.
Following the second game, Brown had another meeting with his players and delivered another message.
"I told them the 50-game grind of the regular season is finally over," he said. "Now, we have a brand-new season, and it's going to be a short one. We don't have to hold back anymore because if we do, there might not be a tomorrow."
Riverton (33-16, 10-6 A West) will open the Wyoming American Legion state tournament against Gillette on Wednesday.
Green River 0 1 0 0 4 0 0 -- 5
Riverton 0 0 0 2 6 4 x -- 12
Green River - Munoz, 0-4; Jensen, 0-3; Hopkins, 2-3, 2 RBI; Gelina, 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Ebert, 0-3; Beutel, 0-3; Taliaferro, 0-3; Sturlaugson, 3-3, RBI; Bowen, 1-3.
Riverton - Roden, 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Higgs, 2-4, 2B, RBI; Frazier, 1-4, RBI; A. Fabricus, 2-4, HR, RBI; Washington, 0-3; D. Fabricus, 0-2; Draper, 0-1, 2 BB; Baldes, 0-2; Lassiter, 1-2, RBI; Fisher, 0-1, 3 BB.
Green River 2 0 0 0 1 x x -- 3
Riverton - 9 7 0 0 x x x -- 16
Green River - Munoz, 0-2; Jensen, 0-2; Hopkins, 0-2, RBI; Gelinas, 2-3, 2 RBI; Beutel, 0-2; Ebert, 0-1; Taliferro, 0-2; Sturlaugson, 0-1; Bowen, 0-2.
Riverton - Roden, 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Higgs, 0-2, 2 BB, RBI; Frazier, 1-2, 2 BB, 2 RBI; A. Fabricus, 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Washington, 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI; D. Fabricus, 3-4, RBI; Draper, 1-3; Lassiter, 1-2; Fisher, 1-3, 2 RBI.
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