DOUGLAS – The Torrington senior Legion baseball team went 2-2 at Douglas’ annual Bolln Wood Bat Tournament, finishing second after falling in the championship game against Riverton.
On Friday evening, the Tigers opened the tournament with a 9-1 run-ruled victory over conference foe Wheatland.
“We needed that one, especially after two pretty rough performances against Cheyenne,” Tiger coach Sam Firminhac said. “It was big to come out and run rule a conference rival like that.”
After Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Hawks, the Tigers were short on arms, and Firminhac went with Aidyn Saucedo.
Saucedo went the distance for the Tigers in the victory.
“It was big for him. We let him go all the way,” Firminhac said. “He did a great job for us. He worked out of two bases loaded jams and threw a (complete game).”
Saucedo pitched six innings on 89 pitches. He gave up only one run and struck out one Lobo batter.
After Saucedo retired Wheatland in order in the first inning, Torrington jumped on the Lobos early.
Torrington had three batters hit by a pitch in the frame to go along with a single from Ayden Desmond. Throw in a Wheatland error, and the Tigers led 2-0.
Torrington added three in the second, two in the third, one in the fifth and sixth innings to complete the run-rule win.
In all, Torrington had 11 hits, led by Matthew Hellus, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. Ben Firminhac also drove in three runs.
“We didn’t see their best pitching by any means, but it was big getting the barrel out there and putting pressure on their defense and forcing them to make plays,” Firminhac said.
The next day, the Tigers returned to the field, falling 8-2 to Powell.
“We came out and played pretty well, actually,” Tiger assistant coach Jackson Jones said. “We started Ben, and he threw really well. We backed him up on defense for about three innings. There were only two innings where they scored runs. That was the difference.”
A passed ball scored Saucedo, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Torrington added to its lead in the second inning when Hellus doubled in the second, scoring Bryce Hager.
In the top of the third, Powell scored five runs and never trailed the remainder of the game. In fact, Powell scored all eight of its runs in the third and sixth innings.
“They threw a couple pretty good arms at us,” Jones said. “It was good to see those kind of arms as we go into districts and state because we will definitely see those guys again at state.”
The Tigers had only four hits in the game – one each from Saucedo, Austin Short, Desmond and Hellus.
Firminhac took the loss, pitching five innings, striking out two.
With the 1-1 record in pool play, the Tigers were the No. 2 seed and faced Green River in the semifinal round on Sunday morning.
Torrington picked up its second run-ruled victory of the weekend 12-1 over the Knights behind a complete game from starter Nolan Long.
“It might have very well been the best game of the year for many of our pitchers,” Jones said. “He was in the zone. All we asked those guys to do was stay in the zone, throw strikes and let the defense work for you. That’s exactly what Nolan did.”
Long pitched six innings on 64 pitches, striking out four and surrendering only three hits.
“He was really efficient for us, and we carried that momentum over to the offensive side,” Jones said. “Props to Nolan for coming out and pitching like he did. It was pretty special to watch.”
Green River scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the first. From there, it was all Torrington.
Ryder Hackbarth tied the game, scoring on a fielder’s choice in the second inning, and the Tigers took the lead on a passed ball in the third.
Torrington never looked back, scoring three in the third and fifth innings and capped off the game with five runs in the sixth.
Desmond was 2-for-4 at the plate to lead the offense with two runs scored. Hackbarth was 1-for-1 with three RBIs and two walks.
The win advanced the Tigers to the championship game. Torrington trailed by as many as 9-3 in the fifth inning before a late game rally came up short 10-8 against Riverton.
“That was a tough game. It was our fourth game in three days out in the heat,” Jones said. “It was the same for them, but we picked a bad day to have a bad day on the defensive side. We had a few errors.”
Torrington committed five errors in the loss, including two in the fifth inning, aiding Riverton’s big inning.
The Tigers got the five runs back in the bottom of the fifth to draw within 9-8, but it proved to be not enough.
Short was tagged with the loss, throwing three innings, striking out two.
“Austin threw well. We just didn’t back him up very well,” Jones said. “Defensively, we just needed to clean it up a little bit.”
Despite that, the Tigers still managed to battle back and give Riverton a run for the championship.
“Those guys are going to be the one-seed coming out of their quadrant,” Jones said. “That’s a really good team. We lost 10-8, but it’s encouraging to see we can have bad games and still be close and give ourselves a shot to win a game.”
Desmond, Hager and Hackbarth had two hits apiece for Torrington.
The Tigers (17-13) wrap up the regular season on the road against Sheridan County (Nebraska) on Wednesday, July 13. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
“It’s going to be a tune-up game for districts. We are going to throw as many guys as we can to get everyone some reps,” Jones said.
The East District Tournament begins July 18 in Douglas.