TORRINGTON – The Torrington Tiger senior Legion baseball team split a pair of doubleheaders to open the 2020 schedule last week.
On Wednesday, the Tigers swept conference foe, Wheatland on the road, but on Saturday, fell twice to the Colorado Ducks in the Tigers home opener.
“We certainly got off to a rocky start to the season but, you know, it was just that, it was the start to the season,” Tiger coach Rob Mortimore said. “I was really proud of the guys. No matter what we went through as far as mental and physical errors, they stayed in it.”
Against Wheatland, the Tigers jumped out to a four-run lead in the top of the first inning, but it didn’t take long for the Lobos to battle back.
Wheatland scored twice in the bottom of the first, and added runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 7-4 lead.
Heading to the sixth, the Tiger offense got a jump start by a Deagan Keith single and an error, allowing Nick Sherbeyn to reach. Cameron Murphy followed up with a bunt single to load the bases. Sam Firminhac worked a walk, and Sherbeyn scored on a sacrifice fly.
The inning was capped off by a passed ball, allowing Murphy to tie the game at seven.
After a scoreless seventh, the game headed to extra innings.
After back-to-back one-out walks by Firminhac and Jackson Jones, Tristian Kingsley doubled to left field driving in the go-ahead runs.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jones recorded his seventh strike out of the game to strand Wheatland runners at the corners.
“Jackson stepped up,” Mortimore said. “Obviously our arms aren’t ready for extra-inning games and for us to open the season with a game that goes at least one extra inning is not ideal, but you know, it’s a testament to Cameron and Deagan for stepping up those first six innings and doing what they need to do.”
Jones was credited for the win, pitching 3 1/3 innings, not allowing a Wheatland run on 60 pitches.
“We had everybody on a straight 60 pitch count,” Mortimore said. “That’s what we were looking at doing through the first few games here. They stay within and got us through innings and ate up those innings.”
Offensively, Sherbeyn, Murphy, Kingsley, Riley and Ben Firminhac tallied two hits apiece.
In the second game, the Tigers were forced to come from behind again.
Wheatland held a 2-0 lead through four innings before the Torrington offense started clicking in the fifth.
Over the final three innings, the Tigers plated 11 runs, while allowing only two additional Lobo runs.
Murphy went 3-for-5 at the plate, while Sherbeyn and Gabe Mitchell went 2-for-3.
Sam Firminhac recorded the win in relief of starter Caeden Riley, working 3 1/3 innings.
On Saturday, the Tigers opened the home portion of the schedule against the Denver-based, Colorado Ducks.
The Ducks handed Torrington 11-8 and 7-4 losses.
“We did some things better than we did on Wednesday. There are still some things we need to work on obviously. But, overall, I think we learned from it,” Mortimore said. “We got better despite losing those two games. We improved from Wednesday to Saturday.”
In game one, the Ducks grabbed a 4-0 lead heading to the bottom of the third inning, but the second time seeing the Colorado’s southpaw got the Tiger offense going.
Blake Lofink’s leadoff single sparked the rally. Keith walked and a triple from Sam Firminhac got the Tigers on the scoreboard. Jones followed it up with a triple but scored on a throwing error to tie the game at four.
“Whatever it is with lefties, we have a tough time seeing them that first time through the lineup. After we got settled in and hit the ball well,” Mortimore said.
In the fifth, an RBI groundout by Mitchell put the Tigers in front, 5-4.
The Ducks countered with five runs in the fifth and never trailed for the remainder of the game.
Gage Correa was 3-for-4 at the plate, while Lofink and Riley added two hits apiece. In all, eight Tiger batters tallied at least one hit.
Keith was tagged with the loss in 1 2/3 innings of work in relief of Murphy.
In game two, the Tigers got RBIs from Jones and Sam Firminhac to take a 2-0 lead through three innings, but in the top of the fourth Colorado responded with three runs.
The visitors added two in the fifth and seventh innings to pull away for the win.
Torrington also got runs in the fifth and seventh.
Tiger pitchers issued 12 walks in game two and 18 combined.
Jones went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Riley suffered the loss in relief.
“The key for us is going to be pitching,” Mortimore said. “We gave up way too many walks in both games on Saturday, to really give ourselves a chance to stay in the game. We need to eliminate the walks and make sure we’re getting the ball in the strike zone, allowing them put it in play, letting our defense go to work.”
The Tigers (2-2 overall and 2-0 in the ‘A’ Southeast Conference) heads to Riverton this weekend for the Roy Peck Tournament Saturday and Sunday.
Torrington will face Evanston at 10 a.m. and Green River at 4 p.m. Saturday, and Riverton at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The third-place game will begin at 2 p.m. with the championship at 5 p.m.
“I’m excited to see what we can do. We’ll get into a tournament type setup for the first time so our arms will be lengthened out a little bit,” Mortimore said. “I’m eager to see what we can do on the mound as far as getting some extra innings, getting five or six innings out of a starter, and see where our bullpen shakes out.”