Jul 30, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorRiverton faced a do-or-die game against the Cats on Saturday as a result of a 15-4 loss to Cody on Friday and now has a rematch with the Cubs for the state title.
For eight innings on Saturday in Cowley, everything was going completely according to plan for the Riverton Raiders in their game against Douglas at the American Legion A state tournament.
Starting pitcher Dalton Lassiter had been masterful on the mound, working eight innings, part of a 100-pitch effort which saw the righty hurler strike out three while walking only one. He and his teammates had built a 6-2 lead with an inning to play.
But, it all came undone for Riverton in the top of the ninth, as the Cats scored five runs to take a 7-6 advantage, leaving the Raiders only three outs from elimination from the tournament when it looked for all the world as if they had already booked passage to Sunday's championship game against Cody.
However, displaying the resolve and never-say-die approach they've employed all season, the Raiders scratched a pair of runs across in the bottom of the ninth for an 8-7 win, culminating with a Dalton Baldes hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded, forcing home Alex Fabricus with the winning run.
According to Riverton manager Troy Brown, the right man for the job was at the plate in that situation.
"Dalton and Dillon Fabricus have been in a competition all season to see who could get hit the most," said Brown of Baldes, who has been on the receiving end of a hit-by-pitch 19 times this season. "So, it was completely fitting for it to be him up there."
Riverton opened the game's scoring with a single marker in the bottom of the second, as Dillon Fabricus singled leading off the frame, then advanced to third on a Baldes double, before scoring on a Matt Fisher sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
The real Riverton offense arrived in the fourth, with five Raiders crossing the plate.
Fisher scored Jaren Draper with an RBI single, followed by a Kyren Higgs double that chased home Matt Fisher and Brodie Roden, who had reached on an error. It was 5-0.
Cody Frazier added a sacrifice fly to make it 6-0 after four innings of play.
Douglas remained in the game with a pair of runs in the fifth, and the score stayed 6-2 heading to the fateful ninth inning.
After the Cats had gone ahead in the top half, the Raiders roared right back in the bottom.
Frazier drew a leadoff walk, followed by another from Alex Fabricus, bringing Josiah Washington to the plate. He singled to load the bases.
Dillon Fabricus popped out to the catcher, then Draper hit a ground ball to shortstop, which was misplayed for an error, allowing Frazier to score the tying run.
Finally, on a 2-2 pitch, Baldes took one for the team with the bases still loaded, and Alex Fabricus came home with the game-winner.
Even after having let the lead slip away, Brown said he wasn't worried.
"We just don't panic," said Brown. "I know the resiliency of these players."
Riverton won despite seven errors, which helped get Douglas back into the game, but with an offense as powerful and prolific as he has at his disposal, Brown knows his squad is never out of a contest.
"I felt confident with the guys we had coming up to the plate," said Brown. "Good hitting makes up for a lot of mistakes."
Riverton will now face Cody for the state championship on Sunday, with the Raiders needing a pair of victories against the Cubs in the double-elimination format to claim victory.
Cody 15, Riverton 4
Earlier this season, the Raiders defeated the Cody in American Legion baseball action for the first time in four years.
However, the Cubs remained the kings of the A West conference, and the Raiders knew it.
A victory against its longtime rival did wonders to boost the confidence and finally blow up the mental block for manager Troy Brown's club.
Unfortunately, on Friday at the state tournament in Cowley, Cody proved to be more than Riverton could handle in a 15-4 defeat.
The Cubs scored the game's first run in the bottom of the first against Raiders starter Fisher for a 1-0 lead after one, then steadily added to its advantage with two, three and four runs in each of the corresponding frames, building a commanding lead in the process.
Riverton scored three runs in the top of the fourth to close within 10-3 after four.
Roden homered on a 2-2 pitch to open the Raiders' scoring, followed by a Frazier base-on-balls and an Alex Fabricus single, leaving runners first and second for Josiah Washington, who advanced both men up a base.
Dillon Fabricus then doubled, driving home Frazier and Alex Fabricus for another pair of runs.
Cody quickly got those three runs right back in the bottom of the fourth to quell any hopes of a Raiders fightback.
Washington lifted a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Frazier, who had singled, for Riverton's final marker of the game.
The Raiders could muster only five hits against Cody starter Heston Williams, who hurled a complete-game victory, striking out 10 in the process.
It wasn't the first time Williams had quieted the Raiders' bats, as he preceded Riverton's lone win against his club this season with 6 2/3 scoreless innings earlier the same day in a 1-0 Cubs win on June 25.
Alex Fabricus was 2-for-3 for Riverton in defeat, while Brayden Polley went 2-for-4 with a double, home run and five RBI for Cody in victory.
Riverton 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 -- 4
Cody 1 2 3 4 3 2 x -- 15
Riverton - Roden, 1-2, HR, RBI; Higgs, 0-3; Frazier, 1-2; A. Fabricus, 2-3; Washington, 0-2, RBI; D. Fabricus, 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Draper, 0-3; Baldes, 0-3; Lassiter, 0-3.
Cody - Wasia, 1-3; K. Brown, 1-2, 2 RBI; Grenz, 2-4, 2 RBI; C. Brown, 1-4; McLeod, 1-4, 2 RBI; Price, 2-3, 2B; Polley, 2-4, 2B, HR, 5 RBI; Williams, 0-2; Beaudrie, 0-3.
Douglas 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 5 -- 7
Riverton 0 1 0 5 0 0 0 2 -- 8
Douglas - Bobrowski, 2-6; DeLuna, 1-5; Barker, 3-5, 2 RBI; Olloie, 0-5; Shelver, 0-4, 2 RBI; Brooks, 1-4; Robles, 0-5,
Riverton - Roden, 1-5; Higgs, 1-5, 2B; 2 RBI; Frazier, 1-2, RBI; A. Fabricus, 1-4; Washington, 1-5; D. Fabricus, 1-4; Draper, 0-4, RBI; Baldes, 2-3, 2B, RBI; Fisher, 1-3, 2 RBI.
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