Riverton all-stars open state tourneyJul 26, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
The 12-and-under squad plays host Laramie in Wednesday's first round.
Riverton's 12-and-under all-stars were one out from being banished to the losers bracket at the District 1 tournament in Green River last week before a heroic fightback saw them defeat Cody 19-18 after trailing 15-5 entering the bottom of the sixth inning.
Here they are now, less than a week later, standing as the No. 1 seed out of the district as they open play against host Laramie at the state tournament.
Nathan Hutchison played the role of hero in the Cody game, hitting two home runs and driving in nine runs in the last two innings of the contest, which required seven frames to complete.
According to Riverton manager Mark Reinig, the comeback victory taught his team a valuable lesson.
"Our kids know to never give up," said Reinig. "We certainly have plenty of firepower to score runs."
On Saturday in the championship game against Big Horn, it was Uriah Hines's turn to don the cape, hitting a pair of homers in a 21-6 victory, which secured the trophy.
Who will step up next?
Certainly, there is an entire roster of weapons which can produce the next home run bomber or fireball hurler.
Dallon Draper is the club's leading hitter with a robust .636 batting average, followed closely by teammates Darrick DeVries (.625), Garrett Raymond (.625), Hutchison (.611), Hines (.611), Brodie Dale (.571), Hunter Hauck (.571), Christopher Reinig (.467) and Wyatt Frazier (.444).
In the power department, Hines leads with three long balls, while Hutchison and Draper each have two, and Reinig has one on the postseason.
Hutchison leads the team with 15 runs batted in, while Hines is second with 12.
Riverton also has no shortage of speed on the bases, having stolen 17 bags in their four games, with Raymond leading the way with three swipes, while Dale, DeVries, Hauck and Hines have a pair each.
Reinig and Hines have each crossed the plate 10 times for an offense which has scored a remarkable 73 runs in four games, an average of 18.2 per contest.
With numbers like those, pitching isn't at a premium, but Riverton has plenty of capable mound men should the offense dry up on a given occasion.
Reinig, Hines, Hauck, Dale, Hutchison, Raymond and Draper have all taken turns hurling the pill from the hill with equal effectiveness.
Hines, in particular, has made it as uncomfortable for opposing hitters as he has for pitchers when he's standing in the box, having struck out 14 batters in five innings of work.
Defense is also a strength of this squad, as Draper has handled 21 chances in the field without making an error.
Despite entering as the No. 1 seed from the district, Reinig and his players know it's not going to be any easier.
"None of the seeding or any of that means anything," said Reinig. "We're still going to have to play good baseball."
One thing is for sure -- the desire is there, said Reinig.
"All of these kids are wanting to win," he said. "They really enjoy even practicing. Once the game starts, they're all pretty intense."
With a victory on Wednesday, Riverton will advance and face the winner of the Cody/Gillette game on Thursday at 4 p.m., while a defeat would relegate them to the losers bracket.
The winner of the tournament will represent Wyoming at the regional tournament in San Bernardino, California on Aug. 6-12.