After a promising start at the Gillette Spring Classic the previous weekend, the Evanston Outlaws Legion AA baseball team found another gear Saturday and Sunday at the Rock Springs Invitational, posting a 4-0 record. The Outlaws are now 5-4 on the young season.
Evanston picked up quality wins against a pair of AA West Conference foes on Saturday, downing Jackson 5-2 to open the tournament, then outlasting the host team Rock Springs 7-3. Evanston followed that Sunday with a pair of mercy-rule shortened wins over Green River, 15-4 and 19-2.
With the wins over Jackson and Rock Springs, the Outlaws are now 3-0 against AA West Conference teams, having beat the Casper Oilers in the Spring Classic.
“Things were definitely going well for us,” said Outlaws manager Chad Thompson. “We hit the ball well over the course of the weekend, but I think the biggest thing was our defense. I think over the course of four games, I think we had maybe four errors. We got into tight games with Jackson and Rock Springs, and our defense bailed us out a couple of times, for sure.”
Outlaws 5, Jackson 2
Saturday’s game against Jackson was a pitcher’s duel from the first pitch, with the game knotted at 1-1 through four innings.
Ryan Fisher got the start for Evanston and was solid through six innings, giving up a run on four hits and striking out six.
“Ryan held them to a run — he gave us every opportunity to win the game,” Thompson said.
The Outlaws drew first blood in the bottom of the second — after walks to Fisher and Gus Allred put a runner in scoring position, Fisher promptly stole third, then scored on an error by the catcher, who overthrew the third baseman on the play.
The Giants scored a run in the top of the fourth to bring the game back to even at 1-1, but Evanston retook the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth. With the Outlaws still looking for their first hit of the contest, Kendell Cummings singled to center to get things started. A sacrifice bunt by Brenden Thompson moved Cummings into scoring position, and with two outs, Reid Gross singled to shallow left, scoring Cummings and tying the game at 2-2.
The Outlaws blew the game open in the following inning, plating three runs to put the game out of reach. With two on and no outs, Casey Periman singled in Jagger Mitchell for the go-ahead run, making it 3-2. With bases loaded a short time later, Cummings hit into a fielder’s choice, with two runs scoring on an errant throw to first to make it 5-1.
Jackson scored a run in the top of the seventh to cut the lead to 5-2, but could get no closer, as the Outlaws held on for the 5-2 win.
Fisher got the win for the Outlaws on the hill, while Clayton Moyles pitched an inning in relief and picked up the save.
“Defensively against Jackson, we were able to keep ourselves in it and come out on the right side of it,” Thompson said. “We didn’t do that last weekend up in Gillette — we were in every game, but got bit by big innings, made some mistakes. We held mistakes to a minimum this time around.”
Rock Springs 3
Riding high off their win against Jackson, the Outlaws kept things rolling against the host team, led by a 3-for-4, 2 RBIs performance at the plate from Ryan Fisher in the 7-3 win.
“We didn’t hit the ball as well against Rock Springs — I felt like we should have scored more runs,” Thompson said. “Again, defensively, we kept ourselves in it, kept fighting and came out on the right side of that one.”
Evanston got off to a fast start, plating a pair of runs in the opening frame. With two outs and Reid Gross standing on third, Fisher doubled to drive in the first run of the game. Not to be outdone, Casey Periman smacked a double in the very next at-bat, scoring Fisher to give the Outlaws a 2-0 lead.
After a scoreless second inning, the Outlaws added to their lead with two runs in the top of the third. Periman continued to add to his RBI total, singling in Fisher from third to give Evanston a 3-0 lead; he would score a short time later on a Jordan Schneider double to push the lead to 4-0.
The Sand Puppies stormed back with three runs in the bottom of the third to cut the Outlaws’ lead to one at 4-3.
After holding Rock Springs scoreless in the fourth, the Outlaws dodged a bullet in the fifth with a pair of defensive gems to keep the Sand Puppies off the board. With runners on first and second with one out, Rock Springs’ Ryan Powers smacked a double to center. Fisher scooped the ball in center and came up firing, throwing on a line to Gross at the plate to cut down the runner attempting to score from second. On the very next play, second baseman Caysen Smith chased down a grounder that looked headed for the gap between first and second for the final out of the inning.
“Ryan threw an absolute laser from mid-centerfield and gunned a runner down at home,” Thompson said. “The guy tried to jump over the catcher, we got a pretty cool picture of that one. That ball never touched the ground, and you could tell the runner was confused about what to do. It was definitely a great throw.”
After scoreless innings by both teams in the fourth and the fifth, Evanston managed a three-run inning of their own in the top of the sixth to put the game out of reach. Fisher picked up his second RBI of the game, knocking in Gross to make it 5-3. With the bases loaded later in the inning, Gus Allred grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Clayton Moyles from third. Jagger Mitchell stole home for the final run of the game, and the Outlaws came away with a 7-3 win.
Moyles got the start on the hill for Evanston, giving up zero hits and zero runs and striking out three in two innings of work and picking up his first win of the season. Allred and Caysen Smith pitched in relief, with Allred giving up no runs on two hits and striking out four in three and two-thirds innings.
At the plate for the Outlaws, Periman went 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBIs; he and Fisher were the only Outlaws with multiple hits. Allred and Schneider each had an RBI double, while Gross finished with a hit and two runs scored.
“I give credit to the entire outfield in this one,” Thompson said. “They were tracking down and running down balls that when they left the bat, we thought for sure we were in trouble. We worked all week in getting better angles, and they definitely responded.”
Outlaws 15, Green River 4
Outlaws 19, Green River 2
The Outlaws put on a hitting display Sunday in a doubleheader against Green River, pounding out a combined 19 hits in two lopsided outings. Both games were called early due to the 10-run rule.
“Ben Lail does a really good job over there in Green River,” Thompson said. “They had some issues getting started — they weren’t gonna play this year, then they were. I think they only had like three practices coming into this, so they were a little behind everybody.”
In the first game, Evanston took advantage of nine runs in the second inning and five runs in the fourth to cruise to a 15-4 win. The Outlaws finished with four hits in the contest, led by Casey Periman with a hit and 2 RBIs and a pair of two-run doubles by Jagger Mitchell and Clayton Moyles. Ryan Fisher also had a hit, and scored three runs. Kendell Cummings and Brenden Thompson led the team with three RBIs each.
Ethan Beus picked up the win for the Outlaws, giving up two runs on three hits and striking out five in four innings of work. Reid Gross pitched an inning in relief, giving up two runs and striking out one.
The Outlaws cranked out 15 hits in the second game of the doubleheader, led by a 4-for-4, 3 RBIs performance by Brenden Thompson — one of five Outlaws to finish the game with multiple hits.
Jagger Mitchell went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and a team-high four RBIs, while Reid Gross went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Conner Peterson and Casey Periman rounded out the multi-hit crew with two hits apiece; Peterson knocked in three runs.
Kendell Cummings had the only triple of the game, and also knocked in three runs; Caysen Smith also had a hit and an RBI.
Mitchell got the start on the hill for the Outlaws, giving up two runs on three hits and striking out four in three innings of work. Derek MacDonald pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief.
The Outlaws will play their home opener Thursday at Ross Kesterson Field, welcoming in Rock Springs for a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. After falling to the Outlaws on their home field, Thompson said the Sand Puppies will be looking for a little payback.
“We’re gonna get back into the cages swinging the bat, and we have a few things we want to work on defensively,” Thompson said.
“We played really great defense in Rock Springs, but there’s always room for improvement.”