Jul 27, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorRiverton won its state-tournament opener against Gillette in extra innings.
American Legion rules stipulate nine-inning games once clubs reach their respective state tournaments, despite playing seven-frame contests all season.
No matter for Cody Frazier.
Riverton's third baseman hit a walk-off single Wednesday to plate Matt Fisher with the game-winning run in an 8-7, 10-inning victory against Gillette in the opening round at the A-division state tournament in Cowley.
The Raiders jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three innings behind some timely hitting and shutdown pitching from from starter Dalton Baldes.
Brodie Roden led off the bottom of the first with a single, followed by a Kyren Higgs walk. After Roden had stolen second, then scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 advantage, Higgs was out attempting to steal second, and Frazier flied out.
An Alex Fabricus hit-by-pitch and a Josiah Washington single put another pair of runners on base with two outs, but Dillon Fabricus grounded into a fielder's choice to kill the threat and end the inning with the Raiders settling for the single marker.
After striking out a pair of Gillette batters in the first, Baldes went back to work in the second, retiring the side in order, then delivered another scoreless frame in the third.
In the meantime, his teammates continued to build a lead.
Jaren Draper drew a walk to open the inning, followed by a Dalton Lassiter single, bringing Fisher to the plate with two on and no outs.
Fisher hit into a 4-6-3 double play, but Draper managed to circle third and score on the play to make it 2-0.
In the third, Riverton took advantage of a pair of Gillette errors, which led to its third run. Higgs reached safely on a miscue, then scored on another Gillette error. It was 3-0, which it remained through four innings.
Gillette finally came alive in the fifth, but not without some help from the Raiders, which repaid Gillette's earlier charity with a pair of errors themselves to gift Gillette its first runs of the game.
But that only halved the deficit, which the Raiders extended once again by pulling back a run in the their half of the fifth, highlighted by a Frazier double. He scored on a passed ball for a 5-2 lead.
Gillette added a run in the top of the seventh to make it 5-3 before being set down by Baldes, who had continued to pitch well despite hitting the 100-pitch mark.
Usually, that would've been game during the regular season, but another two innings were required, which was where things got interesting.
Roden homered leading off the bottom of the seventh for 6-3 lead going to the eighth.
Baldes finally ran out of pitches, ultimately throwing 118 and striking out eight before handing the ball to Alex Fabricus, who retired the side, keeping Gillette at bay with the Raiders still ahead 7-3.
Riverton added another marker in the bottom of the eighth, as Washington singled to lead off, then scored on a Draper base hit to make it 7-4.
Now, only three outs stood between the Raiders and victory.
But it came undone in the top of the ninth, as the Rustlers put up three runs, tying the game at 7-7.
Draper again stepped in with runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a chance to win it, only to fly out to center.
The longer-than-usual game now required even more bonus baseball to produce a winner.
After Dillon Lange had entered the game in relief of Fabricus to retire the side in the ninth, he pitched a scoreless 10th, with set the stage for late drama.
Fisher reached on another Gillette error, sandwiched by fly-outs off the bats of Lassiter and Roden, leaving it up to Higgs to extend the inning, which he did with a single, moving Fisher up to second.
Frazier jumped on the first pitch he saw and drove a liner to center, which scored Fisher to secure victory.
Finally, it was over, and the Raiders had finished the marathon a nose ahead of the Rustlers at the finish line.
According to Riverton manager Troy Brown, Frazier was due for another of his lasers to fall in following his double earlier in the game.
"Cody hit a lot of balls hard today," said Brown, "but he didn't have a lot to show for it."
Not lost on Brown in the offensive shuffle were the respective efforts of his pitchers to put his club in position to win the game, he said.
"Baldes gave us seven strong innings," said Brown. "Dillon then really stepped up and got it done."
Despite the fact Baldes won't be available to pitch again in the tournament due to his high pitch count and mandated rest, the Riverton's boss is confident in the arms he has left in his arsenal.
"Both of our relievers kept it at 30 pitches or less," said Brown, meaning both Alex Fabricus and Lange are immediately available for more mound duty. "So, it wasn't any more taxing on us than it should've been."
Still, Brown rued the fact his club was lifting the ball too much at the plate.
"Gillette was having trouble with ground balls, but we kept hitting it in the air," he said. "They have some outfielders who can go get it."
Roden, Frazier, Washington, Draper and Lassiter all had a pair of hits in the game for Riverton.
Brown praised his own players, but also those of the opposition.
"Give Gillette credit -- they never gave up," he said. "I'm very proud of how our guys battled on once they lost the lead."
Riverton faced Cheyenne at 4 p.m. Thursday in the winners bracket after the Hawks defeated Green River, 13-3.
On the other side of the bracket, Cody beat Rawlins 20-0, and Douglas defeated Lovell 9-4.
Gillette 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 3 0 -- 7
Riverton 1 1 2 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 -- 8
Gillette - Grey, 1-5; Reimer, 2-5, RBI; Jarvi, 1-4, RBI; Lewis, 1-4; Hester, 2-4; Driskel, 0-4, RBI; Guernsey, 1-5, RBI; Richards, 0-4, Brown, 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI.
Riverton - Roden, 2-6, HR, RBI; Higgs, 1-5; Frazier, 2-5, 2B, RBI; A. Fabricus, 0-4; Washington, 2-3; D. Fabricus, 1-4; Lange, 0-0, BB; Draper, 2-4, 2 RBI; Lassiter, 2-5; Fisher, 0-5.
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