CHEYENNE – The Torrington senior Legion baseball team’s season came to a close Monday afternoon in the consolation bracket of the Wyoming ‘A’ State Legion Baseball Tournament.
The season came down to the final inning of the team’s third game at the season-ending tournament. When the dust settled on Monday, the Tigers fell to conference foe Wheatland, 10-5.
For the weekend, Torrington went 1-2, falling to Wheatland and Cody, while knocking off Douglas.
On Saturday, the Tigers opened the tournament against defending state champion Cody and lost 12-2 in five innings.
Of the 14 runs scored in the game, 13 of them came in the first inning.
Torrington came out looking to make a statement.
The Tigers got three of the game’s five hits in the first inning, including singles from Bryce Hager, Caeden Riley and Ben Firminhac. Deagan Keith was hit by a pitch and Jackson Jones walked to give the upset minded Tigers an early 2-0 lead.
Things quickly went south for the No. 4 seeded team from the East District as Cody scored 11 runs in the bottom of the first.
“We were struggling to throw strikes,” Tiger manager Rob Mortimore said. “Cody is a good enough team, if you give them extra base runners, they’ll make you pay.”
Torrington walked eight batters and hit six. That proved to be the story of the game.
After the first inning, the Tiger pitching settled down and only allowed one additional run over the final four innings, but offensively, Torrington only got two more hits – one each from Jones and Ryder Hackbarth.
“After the first inning, we locked in, and they only got one more run over the next four innings,” Mortimore said. “We did what we had to do pitching wise, we just couldn’t get the bats rolling.”
The loss dropped the Tigers to the consolation bracket, facing a must-win against the Douglas Cats.
Douglas came out and scored two quick runs in the first inning, but Torrington scored eight straight runs to defeat Douglas 8-4.
A single by Jones put the Tigers on the scoreboard, scoring Keith, but it was the arm of Riley who shined in the win.
“Caeden came out and threw a gem for us,” Mortimore said.
Riley went the distance for the Tigers, striking out 10 over seven innings on 104 pitches.
Torrington got an RBI from Aidyn Saucedo and a successful double steal by Saucedo and Matthew Hellus put the Tigers in front.
Torrington got four more runs in the third inning and one in the fourth.
Douglas made a last-ditch effort late in the game, cutting a six-run deficit to four with a two-run home run in the sixth, but a strike out and a pop fly got the Tigers out of the jam.
Hellus led the team with two hits, while seven other Tigers tallied one hit apiece.
“We got just enough offense to hold them off,” Mortimore said. “It was nice for this young group to get a win at state, get that taste and carry that momentum into next year.”
The win advanced the Tigers to another must-win against the Wheatland Lobos.
Torrington battled back from a 3-0 two innings into the contest to take a 5-3 lead after three innings.
Hackbarth jumpstarted the offense going with a triple, scoring Firminhac who walked, to put the Tigers on the board, but it wasn’t until the third inning when the bats started to click.
“We had solid approaches at the plate. We stayed back and drove the ball. We stayed disciplined,” Mortimore said.
That was a talking point all weekend for the Tigers.
“If we stay true to the zone, we’re pretty good hitters, but if we start swinging at balls outside the zone, that’s when we become poor hitters,” Mortimore said.
Torrington batted through the lineup in the third, getting RBIs from Hager, Austin Short, and Hellus.
That’s when Wheatland called on its ace Mytchell Pollock.
“Credit Mytchell Pollock for coming in and shutting us down,” Mortimore said.
Torrington only had two additional base runners over the final four innings of the game.
Despite that, the Tigers and Lobos found themselves tied at five going into the final inning of the game.
“We were right in it in the seventh, and that’s really all you can ask for this group we have,” Mortimore said. “We were competitive through seven innings. (Wheatland’s) experience paid off in the end. Solid at-bats. They didn’t get anxious. They stayed patient. They stayed disciplined. Credit Wheatland for getting it done in the seventh.”
The Lobos exploded for five runs to seal Torrington’s loss.
In addition to Hackbarth’s triple, Short and Hellus singled, adding the only two other hits for the Tigers in the game.
Jones was tagged with the loss, pitching 4 2/3 innings, throwing the max 105 allowable pitches, striking out two.
“That’s all you can ask for from a 19-year-old on the mound in an elimination game,” Mortimore said. “It was like Caeden yesterday, just give us everything you got. He struggled in the first inning with his location. He kept grinding through it and kept us in the game. Outside of a couple pitches here and there, he kept us in the game, and that’s all you can ask for.”
The loss marks the end of the careers of two Tigers – Jones and Riley.
“Those two were the part of group that brought baseball back to Torrington. It’s a testament to those two for coming back for their 19-year-old year and playing with a bunch of young kids and leading them the way they did,” Mortimore said. “It says volumes about the character of those two kids. We couldn’t have done it without them, and I know young guys loved the value and knowledge they brought.”
Torrington finished the season 18-19 on the season.
“It set the precedence for Torrington moving forward, that we expect to be at state, and we expect to compete every year,” Mortimore said. “Those guys will carry the torch next year.”