WHEATLAND – The Torrington Tigers are hitting their stride heading into the ‘A’ Legion State Tournament which begins on July 31 in Douglas.
Torrington locked up the No. 4 seed from the East Conference with a trio of wins last week, sending Wheatland to state as the No. 4 seed from the West Conference.
“We did a lot of good things and had some really big wins to end the year,” coach Kyle Nighswonger said. “We’ve got a little momentum going.”
On Wednesday, July 17, the Tigers brushed aside the Wheatland Lobos, 20-2 and 7-1.
In game one, Torrington didn’t waste any time jumping on Wheatland.
Walks issued to Nick Sherbeyn and Sam Firminhac allowed Jackson Jones’ single to put the Tigers in front 2-0 after only 1/2 inning of play.
Torrington went on to add six runs in the second, five in the third and seven in the fourth to hold a commanding 20-0 lead.
Wheatland plated two in the bottom of the fourth before neither team scored in the fifth.
Six Tigers combined for 14 hits, while Wheatland issued 11 free passes. Sherbeyn and Jones tallied three hits each, while Cameron Murphy, Tristen Kingsley, Caeden Riley and Gage Correa added two apiece.
Murphy went the distance on the mound, striking out six over five innings of work.
In game two, Torrington once again jumped out to a 2-0 behind a leadoff walk to Sherbeyn and singles by Murphy and Jones.
The score remained 2-0 until the top of the fifth when Sherbeyn’s infield single sparked a four-run fifth, extending the Tiger lead to 6-0.
Torrington added to its lead courtesy of a Lobo error in the sixth.
Jones had another three-hit game in the win, to go along with four RBIs. Sherbeyn, Murphy, Sam Firminhac and Ben Firminhac added two hits each.
Riley was credited with the win, striking out six over six innings.
On Sunday, July 21, the Tigers wrapped up the regular season with a doubleheader split with the Cheyenne Hawks.
In game one, Torrington got RBIs from Riley and Sam Firminhac to grab an early 2-0 lead, but Cheyenne countered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
The Tigers weren’t going to go away quietly as the top of the order got the offense going with five runs in the top of the fifth.
“They had a three-run inning on us, and in the next inning, we came out and put the ball in play and put five up on them,” Nighswonger said. “We did what we had to do and showed some resilience that we weren’t just going to fold. It was one of those chances that wasn’t seen at the beginning of the year.”
Singles by Sherbeyn and Murphy, to go along with walks to Sam Firminhac and Jones tied the game at three. Kingsley doubled to make it 6-3, while Ben Firminhac singled to push the Tiger lead to four.
Torrington only allowed Cheyenne four additional base runners the rest of the game.
“Cameron threw another great game and limited walks and base runners,” Nighswonger said.
Murphy picked up the victory, striking out five in 6 2/3 innings, while Deagan Keith recorded the final out of the game.
“We’ve been really happy with the 1-2 combination of bringing in Deagan behind Cameron,” Nighswonger said. “Cameron comes in from the right side and throws the ball really well and has some of the best velocity on the team, if not the state at the single-A level. We like to come with Deagan right behind him. He throws a lot of strikes but comes from the left side of things and slows things down a little bit, keeping kids off balance.”
In the second game, the Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead on an RBI single from Sam Firminhac. Torrington added two more runs in the third inning, but Cheyenne’s bats woke up in the home half of the third with five runs.
“The only thing that really killed us was walks,” Nighswonger said. “We had nine walks or hit batters in that final game against Cheyenne, and we lost by six. If we can limit some walks, we are right in that other game and who knows what happens.”
The Hawks added four in the fourth and four in the sixth to take a 13-4 lead heading into the seventh.
Torrington’s comeback attempt in the final inning came up short, but the Tigers managed to get three runs back before Cheyenne closed out the game with the third out.
The Tigers (11-22 overall and 7-9 in the ‘A’ East Conference) will tune up for the Wyoming ‘A’ Legion State Tournament on Friday, July 26 with a scrimmage against former Tiger alumni. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“Here towards the end, we’ve been preaching we weren’t trying to peak in late June or beginning of July, but we are trying to peak at the end of the season,” Nighswonger said. “To be playing our best baseball here in the last week of the season is pretty great to see when we are heading to the state tournament next week.”