LARAMIE – Despite finishing the weekend winless at the Dooley Oil Classic in Laramie, the Torrington senior American Legion baseball team ended it four game set in Laramie on a positive note.
Torrington fell to the Evanston Post 41 Outlaws 2-1 in nine innings on a soggy, cold Saturday afternoon at Cowboy Field, but coach Kyle Nighswonger was pleased with the effort.
“We had quite a performance, as a whole team,” he said. “We hit the ball hard when we hit it. We made some great plays.”
It all started with the pitching performance of Cameron Murphy. He went 7 1/3 innings, throwing 109 pitches. Murphy struck out five, reaching the pitch count limit facing the first batter in the top of the eighth inning.
“We had as good of a pitching performance as you can have. Cameron threw great,” Nighswonger said. “A couple things happen, and we give up a run. He was in a zone, and if we don’t have a pitch count rule, he’s staying in the game. Then you never know what will happen.”
The only run Evanston scored through the first seven innings of play, came in the top of the fifth inning on a two-out double steal.
Torrington managed to tie the game in the home half of the sixth inning.
Murphy reached base courtesy of a walk. He swiped a pair of bases to reach third base, and Sam Firminhac doubled, driving home Murphy.
In extra innings, Evanston threatened in the top of the eighth. An error and a passed ball put runners in the corners with one out, but a pair of groundouts kept the game tied at one each.
In the next half inning, Torrington loaded the bases with two outs, but a ground out ended any hopes of a walk-off victory.
Then in the ninth, Evanston broke the tie.
A leadoff single eventually came around to score on a passed ball, and Torrington couldn’t get the bats going in the bottom of the ninth.
“We had some opportunities to win the game, but unfortunately, couldn’t get it done. We were right there against one of the toughest teams, if not the toughest team we’ve played all year,” Nighswonger said. “It’s really encouraging that we put so much together here and didn’t fold against three tough games before this one.”
Firminhac went 3-for-4 at the plate.
“We finished on a high note against probably the best team we’ve faced all year,” Nighswonger said. “We are excited about how it happened, unfortunately, we would have liked to win the game, but the way they played was about as encouraging as it could be.”
Prior to the extra-inning loss, the Tigers fell to Rock Springs Archie Hay Post 24 Sand Puppies 9-4 on Thursday.
Rock Springs jumped on Torrington early with three runs in the top of the first inning, adding three more in the top of the third.
In the bottom of the third, an error sparked a brief Tiger rally. Torrington scored three, cutting the Sand Puppy lead in half.
That proved to be as close as the Tigers came to seeing the lead on Thursday.
“The big story of the weekend, besides (Saturday), was giving extra outs,” Nighswonger said. “We found one inning where you give them six or seven outs in an inning, and they score five or six runs.”
In the loss, the Tigers collected only three hits – one each from Gabe Mitchell, Gage Correa and Tristen Kingsley.
The next day, it was much the same story against Dickinson, N.D. and Laramie.
“It was kind of the same thing on a different day,” Nighswonger said. “We have some pretty solid performances hitting the ball. Really, all weekend, we’ve hit the ball well. We had a lot of at-em balls again, and sooner or later, they will start falling.”
On Friday, Dickinson handed the Tigers a 16-4 loss. The Roughriders plated seven in the top of first inning.
Torrington tallied five hits on the day while committing six errors.
Later that evening, the Tigers fell 8-0 to Laramie.
The Tigers (3-12 overall and 1-5 in the ‘A’ East) returns to conference play on Thursday, June 27 against Wheatland.
“We understand what they are going to do,” Nighswonger said. “They throw a lot of off-speed pitches. They like to work backwards. We’ll see their best two arms. We are going out and try to win the game and see what we can get done in a couple conference games that we need to get.”