All-Stars bound for Little League Regional Tournament in California
ROCK SPRINGS – For only the fifth time in Torrington Little League history, the 11-12-year-old Torrington All-Stars are state champions and are bound for the Little League Mountain Regional in San Bernardino, California.
It will be the team’s first trip to the Little League Regional Tournament since 1994.
Torrington will be joined by Boulder Arrowhead Little League out of Billings, Montana, Henderson Little League based out of Henderson, Nevada, and Snow Canyon Little League out of Santa Clara, Utah.
The possibility of a return trip to regionals have been a topic of discussion for a couple of years now with this group of players, and they made it happen.
“They wanted it pretty bad,” Torrington All-Star manager Rob Mortimore said. “They’ve put in the work. They’ve put in the time. It paid off for them.”
To get there, the All-Stars went 4-1 at the state tournament over four days span.
After knocking off Green River in the opening round, it set up a rematch of the district championship game between Torrington and Laramie.
Laramie raced out to a 7-0 first-inning lead en route to handing the All-Stars an 11-2 loss. Laramie added two more in the third and fourth innings.
“(At districts), we felt like we gave the game away, but this past Thursday at state, Laramie came out and swung the bats well,” Mortimore said. “They put it to us in the first inning, and we never really recovered.”
Torrington’s only runs came in the bottom of the fourth when Patrick Mortimore and Asher Mattis reached base and Owen Curry drove both in with a single.
In the loss, the All-Stars had five hits – two by Curry and one each by Ebin Hunter, Colby Groene and Case Gonzalez.
The loss dropped Torrington to a rematch with Green River.
This time, the All-Stars thumped them 16-3.
Torrington scored first in the top of the second. Chase Moeller grounded out, but it brought in Hunter for the first run of the game.
Green River tied the game at one in the third, but in the fourth, Torrington started to blow the game open.
With two out, Hunter singled and multiple Green River errors handed the All-Stars a 3-1 lead. Moeller doubled, driving in a run, extending the lead to 4-1.
Torrington added five in the fifth and seventh in the sixth to pull away for the 13-run victory.
The All-Stars pounded out 14 hits in the win, led by Curry and Hunter, who had three hits each. The duo combined for three RBIs and six runs scored. Mattis and Kane Correa had two hits each.
Barrett Bruch picked up the win, striking out five in 5 1/3 innings.
The win advanced Torrington to the championship game against Laramie.
Like a week before at districts, the All-Stars needed to win both games to lock up the championship.
And that’s what they did.
“On Saturday, our guys seemed to flip the page and got it done,” Mortimore said. “It’s a testament to their character and their determination to get it done.”
In game one on Saturday, Torrington pummeled Laramie 14-3 in a run-ruled victory.
After Laramie jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the All-Stars did most of the damage in the second inning with 11 runs. They added one in the fourth inning and two in the fifth.
Moeller went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Eight other All-Stars tallied one hit each.
The win forced a second and championship-deciding game.
Like in game one, Torrington fell behind early as Laramie took a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The score remained the same until the top of the fourth.
Bryce Booth walked to lead off the inning, and Mortimore and Mattis singled to tie the game at two. Curry quickly gave Torrington a 3-2 lead with a single of his own.
Laramie managed to tie the game at three in the bottom of the fifth.
The score remained tied until the top of the eighth.
Mortimore described the last innings of the game as nerve racking.
“We felt like we gave them that third run to tie it up late,” he said. “We had opportunities to push runs across in the fifth and sixth. Once we got to the eighth, they go to the California tie breaker, and we put a runner at second base and start the inning with no out.”
Hunter began the inning on second, and it didn’t take long for him to score when Groene’s ground ball resulted in an error, allowing Hunter to score. Groene stole second and ended up on third on a passed ball. Bruch laid down a bunt down the first base line, scoring Groene, giving Torrington a 5-3 lead.
In the home half of the eighth, Torrington retired Laramie in order to secure the state championship and punch their ticket to the Little League Regional Tournament for the first time in 29 years.
“We had Kane on the mound, and we were really confident when we got to the bottom of the eighth, we were going to take care of business,” Mortimore said. “We really wanted our guys to finish it. They’ve come so far to lose it that late would have been heartbreaking. They battled through it and got it done.”
The three Torrington All-Star coaches – Mortimore, Grant Curry and Matt Mattis – won state championships as players and are now returning as coaches with their kids on the team.
“It’s pretty cool. To have our kids on the team is icing on the cake,” Mortimore said. “They are all great kids, and it’s pretty unique that we get to go back out there and celebrate with our kids and watch them enjoy the things we got to enjoy 30 years ago. We are looking forward to seeing what they can do on the field.”
Torrington opens play at 1 p.m. (noon Pacific) on Sunday, Aug. 6 against Snow Canyon Little League. Snow Canyon is based out of Santa Clara, Utah and is the defending regional champions and took part in the Little League World Series a year ago.
“It’ll be a good challenge for us. Gillette played them last year pretty close,” Mortimore said. “I look for us to have an opportunity to go out and play and see what happens. It’s just exciting to be a part of it. With the way they have it setup now, there are only four teams in the region and one of them goes to the World Series. We have as good of a shot as anybody else. I’m eager to see how these guys respond, getting out there and playing some different people from different towns and states. It’s a great opportunity to go play some baseball and represent Torrington and Wyoming.”