TORRINGTON – The Torrington senior American Legion baseball team has taken a new approach during the home stretch of the 2020 regular season, and it paid off for the Tigers with a 6-0 week and locking down the top seed at the approaching District Tournament later this month.
The new mentality has more of a postseason feel to it that every game is a big game.
“We put our focus on the midweek doubleheader against Cheyenne,” Tiger manager Rob Mortimore said. “There was a lot at stake in those two games.”
Torrington came into Wednesday’s doubleheader with Cheyenne knowing they needed a sweep to secure the top seed after the Hawks were swept by Wheatland the night before.
That’s exactly what the Tigers did.
Torrington grabbed early leads in both games, ultimately winning 11-1 and 9-4 behind the arms of starters – Cameron Murphy and Caeden Riley.
“Cameron (Murphy), in game one, took care of business, and Caeden (Riley) came out in game two and did what he’s been doing as of late, shutting the door on any offense Cheyenne could get going,” Mortimore said.
In game one, Murphy went the distance for the Tigers, striking out three and surrendering only four hits over five innings of work.
At the plate, the Tigers jumped on the Hawks early with three runs in the bottom of the first.
The first four batters in the Torrington lineup – Nick Sherbeyn, Murphy, Sam Firminhac and Tristen Kingsley – reached base, handing the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Deagan Keith capped off the scoring, grounding out into an RBI fielder’s choice.
The score remained 3-0 until the fourth inning when Cheyenne plated its only run of the game, but Torrington answered with three in the fourth and five in the fifth to close out the run-ruled victory.
Gabe Mitchell paced the offensive attack for Torrington with a 2-for-2 game with two runs scored and a walk.
In game two, the Tigers looked to put away the Hawks early with five runs in the bottom of the first.
Torrington added two more in the second and fifth innings before Cheyenne chipped away at the deficit over the final two innings.
The Hawks got two runs back in the sixth and seventh, but Tiger pitcher Jackson Jones shut down the rally in the seventh.
Riley was credited with the win, striking out four and giving up only two hits.
Offensively, Riley was 3-for-3 at the plate, while Firminhac, Kingsley, Jones, Mitchell and Correa tallied two hits apiece in the 16-hit outburst.
On Friday, the Tigers and Hawks were matched up in the opening round of the Bolln Memorial Wood Bat Tournament, hosted by the Douglas Cats.
After two scoreless innings, Cheyenne struck first with three runs in the bottom of the third inning.
“We got off to a slow start on Friday against Cheyenne,” Mortimore said. “We threw the ball around a little bit.”
It took five innings for the Tigers to get the bats going in the top of the fifth.
An error and back-to-back doubles by Mitchell and Blake Lofink, along with a single by Sherbeyn tied the game at three.
In the top of the sixth, a bunt single by Riley scored Kingsley to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
Torrington added three more in the seventh to pull away for the 7-3 win.
Tiger pitcher Dylan Dreiling picked up the win, working five innings and surrendering two earned runs.
Jones went 3-for-3, while Riley, Sherbeyn and Keith added two hits each.
“Once we got the offense rolling on Friday afternoon, it continued into Saturday and Sunday,” Mortimore said.
On Saturday, Torrington rolled to a pair of run-ruled wins over Riverton and Green River.
In the morning, the Tigers sprinkled 10 runs over five innings behind Riley’s two-hit shutout.
Sherbeyn, Kingsley and Keith led the Tigers with three hits apiece. Riley added two. Firminhac’s only hit of the game left the field for his first home run of the season in the fourth inning.
Later that evening, Torrington pounced on Green River with nine runs in the first, six in the second and two in the third in a three-inning, 17-1 win.
Nine different Tigers recorded at least one hit. Firminhac and Kingsley combined for six hits and seven RBIs.
Jones earned the win, striking out two over three innings on 51 pitches.
With a 3-0 record, Torrington earned a spot in the championship game against rival Wheatland on Sunday afternoon.
For the third time at the tournament, the Tigers ended the game early in run-ruled fashion with a 12-2 victory over the Lobos.
Firminhac drove in the game’s first run in the bottom of the first, but Wheatland tied the game in the top half of the second.
Torrington bats got going in the second with four runs in the frame and seven in the third to push the lead to 12-2.
The third inning was highlighted by Mitchell’s first home run of the season, pushing the Tiger lead to 7-2.
Murphy went 4 1/3 innings on 58 pitches, striking out six and giving up only one earned run.
At the plate, Lofink went 3-for-3, while, Sherbeyn, Murphy and Firminhac tallied two hits apiece.
“The guys swung the bats really well, and we executed, as far as situational hitting,” Mortimore said. “It’s fun when you get rolling like that.”
Over the course of the six games, Torrington scored 66 times on 81 hits.
But it wasn’t just the offense who played well.
“It was just a great weekend for Tiger baseball,” Mortimore said. “It’s nice when you put up runs and save arms on the weekend. We have the luxury of having some arms. Those teams that were playing on Sunday didn’t have arms left. If you look at our roster, we only had three guys that couldn’t throw on Sunday. We had arms to rely on, but our starters went out and pounded the strike zone. We handled the bats, and it allowed us to save some arms.”
Following the Tigers third tournament championship of the season, Torrington only has four regular season games remaining, and Mortimore hopes the team is peaking at the right time.
“That’s kind of what we are hoping for. We are starting to play our best baseball when we get into postseason play,” Mortimore said. “If we can continue to do that through the postseason, we’ll be setup pretty well.”
The Tigers (22-10 overall and 6-2 in the ‘A’ Southeast) return to Douglas to face the Cats (19-15) tonight. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. Torrington will then wrap up the regular season at home against Casper (24-10) on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“We are looking forward to getting back up there,” Mortimore said. “We were hopeful we could see (Douglas) in the championship, but they ran into a decent Green River team on Saturday night that threw the ball well. We’ll be looking forward to getting back up there and seeing Douglas for the final time this season.”