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Raiders begin state tourney with high hopes

Raiders begin state tourney with high hopes

Jul 25, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor

Riverton's American Legion baseball club opens pool play against Gillette on Wednesday.

On Wednesday afternoon in Cowley, the Riverton Raiders will begin their quest for glory at the American Legion A West state tournament.

Riverton finished off the regular season with an overall record of 33-16, including a conference mark of 10-6.

Offense has been the Raiders' hallmark this campaign, with a high-octane lineup which has scored 420 runs, good for an average of 8.5 per contest.

Production has been consistent up and down the entire order, with runs pouring across the plate with impunity.

Any offense begins with a solid leadoff man and center fielder Brodie Roden has provided a combination of speed and power atop the lineup, hitting a team-leading eight home runs to go with 32 stolen bases, along with 43 runs batted in, good for third on the club.

Cody Frazier has been Mr. Consistency for the Raiders, playing in 47 of the squad's 49 games and leading the team with 47 RBI on the season, along with a .414 batting average, slugging percentage of .579, an on-base-plus-slugging mark of 1.136 and a team-leading 54 runs scored.

Along with Frazier's production at the plate has been a solid glove and strong arm at third base, manning the hot corner with precision, snaring shots to either side.

Riverton's leading hitter is Alex Fabricus, who carries a .429 batting average, with five homers and 45 runs batted in. He's been the Raiders' most versatile player, playing first, third, outfield, catcher and pitcher.

Despite playing all over the diamond, Fabricus leads Riverton with a .968 fielding percentage, committing just five errors all season.

Kyren Higgs also has provided an offensive spark as the club's No. 2 man in the batting order, with a .362 average, two home runs and 39 runs batted in.

Raiders manager Troy Brown knows his offense will score runs. Success is a matter of solid defense with the bats in the rack.

"As long as we can limit our mistakes in the field, we'll be good," said Brown. "All we have to do is hit the ball the way we can."

On the mound, Dalton Baldes has been nearly unbeatable, going 9-1 with a 2.38 earned-run-average -- tops among the starting staff -- and 82 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings.

Roden is second with seven wins, while Matt Fisher, has six and Dalton Lassiter three victories.

The double-elimination format will force teams to play as many as five games in five days, with one per day.

The Raiders have already faced that scenario twice this season, at tournaments in Douglas and Billings, Montana, when they played five contests in only four days on each occasion.

However, those were seven-inning games.

In Cowley, nine-inning contests will be the order of the day, which presents the need for more pitching depth. Brown says the Raiders have it.

"One of my goals this season was to make every player on the roster a pitcher," he said. "As many guys as we've had pitch this season, we have plenty of depth across the board, so we should be able to stay rested up."

Reinforcements arrive in the form of Jereko Martinez, Kendrick Muehler, Brock Hinkle and Dillon Lange, who have been added from the Raiders' B squad.

Baldes will get the ball in the opener, but beyond that is by no means set in stone, said Brown.

"It all depends on how we do in the first game," he said.

"Also, who our opponents will be."

Now that the moment has arrived and his squad has a chance to take advantage of what they've been working for all season, Brown said the mood of his players is businesslike.

"Our guys are treating it like any other games," he said. "I told them to just go out, have fun and enjoy themselves."

Riverton is riding a seven-game winning streak heading into the state tournament with the opener against Gillette at 1 p.m. Wednesday after finishing second in the A West conference, which secured the No. 2 seed.

Other openers feature Cheyenne (No. 1 East) against Green River (No. 4 West), Cody (No. 1 West) and Rawlins (No. 4 East) and Douglas (No. 2 East) facing Lovell (No. 3 West).

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