Outlaws on verge of conference title

Outlaws baserunner Conner Peterson slides in under the tag of Casper’s Jordan Tharp Saturday, knocking Tharp’s glasses loose in the process. Peterson scored on the play, and finished 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the 6-5 Outlaws win. (HERALD PHOTO/Don Cogger)

The Evanston Legion AA baseball team continued to roll through their conference schedule last week, sweeping home doubleheaders against Rock Springs and Casper to remain at the top of the AA West standings.

The Outlaws welcomed Rock Springs to Ross Kesterson Field for a day/night doubleheader Wednesday, routing the Sandpuppies 16-3 in the opener, and holding off a late charge in game two to win 12-9.

Saturday’s twin bill against the defending state champ Casper Oilers gave Outlaws fans all the action they could handle, with the home team coming out on the right side of a pair of nail biters, 6-5 and 8-7.

“The boys knew they had a job to do, and they did it,” said Outlaws manager Chad Thompson. “In the end, that’s what counts.”

Evanston is now 26-18 on the season — 9-1 in conference play — with one week remaining before the start of the state tournament. The Outlaws will close out the regular season this weekend with a three-game series in Jackson; two of those will be conference games.

“We’re just going to work on our normal stuff that we do this week,” Thompson said. “We’ll keep plugging away — we’re always trying to get better at individual stuff, and we’ll go from there.”

Outlaws 6, Casper 5

The Outlaws have had Casper’s number this season, winning the first three meetings of the two teams by a healthy margin in each.

But it was a different team that took the field against Evanston Saturday — the defending state champs began to play like it, battling back from a four-run deficit to give the Outlaws a scare before losing 6-5.

“Defensively, we played really well,” Thompson said of the Outlaws. “We put a few runs up, and were able to play good defense. Even though they [Casper] tried to creep back in, we were able to shut it down.”

Casper got on the board first, and led 1-0 after the first inning. The Outlaws tied the game in the bottom of the second — Casey Periman led the inning off with a double, then scored on a long sacrifice fly by Brenden Thompson (the team leader in RBIs with 48) to bring the game back to even at 1-1.

Evanston increased its lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third — a double by Conner Peterson and a single by Ryan Fisher set the table, with Peterson eventually scoring on a wild pitch; Fisher followed suit, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Jagger Mitchell to make it 3-1.

The Oilers cut the lead to 3-2 with a run in the top of the fourth; the Outlaws answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by back-to-back singles by Periman and Reid Gross and an RBI single by Peterson to make it 6-2.

Casper buckled down with a run in the top of the fifth and two runs in the top of the seventh, while holding the Outlaws scoreless in both innings. But with one out, bases loaded and the go-ahead run standing on second, Fisher — on the mound in relief for starter Gus Allred — got Casper’s hitter to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game. It was the second double play the Outlaws turned during the 6-5 win.

“Those were both very timely double plays,” Thompson said. “Our middle infield plays really well together — they always seem to know what the other is going to do before it happens, so that chemistry is good.”

Lefty Gus Allred pitched a gem in his seventh win of the season, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and striking out nine in five innings of work.

“My arm is feeling great,” Allred said. “I feel like I’m starting to get to the point where I can pitch full games, and have finally started to get back into starting games effectively on the mound.”

Fisher picked up the save, giving up two earned runs on two hits, striking out three.

Peterson and Periman combined for four of the Outlaws’ six hits — Peterson was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, while Periman went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.

Fisher (1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored) and Gross (1-for-2 with a run scored) rounded out the hitting; Gross also had the Outlaws’ lone stolen base.

Outlaws 8, Casper 7

The nightcap of Saturday’s twin bill got off to a rough start for the home team — still stinging from the previous game’s end, the Oilers took out their frustrations on Evanston starter Clayton Moyles, plating five runs in the opening frame.

“That first inning, Clayton was just struggling to hit his spots,” coach Thompson said. “That’s baseball, it happens. They [Casper] put five up, and it was catch-up time from there.”

The Outlaws cut Casper’s lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the first, behind an RBI single by Gus Allred. Moyles shook off his disastrous first inning to throw well in the second — the lefthander struck out the first two batters he faced to hold the Oilers scoreless.

Casper increased its lead to 6-1 with a run in the top of the fourth; the Outlaws answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame, when Reid Gross crossed the plate to make it 6-2.

The Oilers added one more run in the top of the sixth to push their lead to 7-2. Quiet for most of the game, the Outlaws’ bats awoke in the bottom of the sixth — back-to-back singles by Ryan Fisher and Hank Allred set the table, with Fisher scoring on an error a short time later. A sacrifice fly by Gus Allred scored brother Hank and Jagger Mitchell to cut Casper’s lead to 7-4; a two-run triple off the bat of Brenden Thompson scored Casey Periman and Reid Gross, and tied the game at 7-7 heading into the final frame.

“He [Brenden] just went with the pitch, and laced it down the right field line,” coach Thompson said. “We were able to score the two runners on base — I was trying to hold Reid [Gross] at third, but he wasn’t listening.”

After a three-up, three-down top of the seventh by the Oilers, the Outlaws went into the bottom of the seventh with a chance to win the game.

With Fisher on board with a single, Hank Allred reached first after getting hit by a pitch. An errant throw by Casper’s catcher in an attempt to pick Hank off at first gave Fisher all the space he needed to score the game winner and send the Oilers home with an 8-7 loss.

“The guys didn’t get down on themselves, and they kept scratching and clawing,” Thompson said. “In the end, we put ourselves in a position to win, and we were able to.”

Mitchell picked up the win in relief, giving up two unearned runs on no hits, striking out six in four and two-thirds innings. Moyles went two and a third innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, and striking out four.

Gus Allred led the charge at the plate for the Outlaws, going 2-for-2 with 3 RBIs.

“Those wins against Casper were huge for us,” Allred said. “We knew we had to get those wins to help set the tone for state, and we were able to pull away with the victories in both games.”

Fisher also had a two-hit game, scoring twice; Hank Allred, Gross and Thompson rounded out the offense with a hit apiece, including a two-run triple by Thompson.

Outlaws 16,

Rock Springs 3

Evanston put on a hitting display in the opener of a twin bill against Rock Springs Wednesday — the Outlaws pounded out 13 hits in a 16-3 rout of the Sandpuppies.

Ryan Fisher led the charge at the plate for the home team, going 4-for-4 with a double, 3 runs scored and 3 RBIs; his .398 batting average leads the team.

“We moved some guys around in the lineup, and moved Ryan up to the one spot, and he performed great,” Thompson said. “When your leadoff is 4-for-4, you’re having yourself a good day.”

Casey Periman also had a day at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and 2 RBIs; Reid Gross and Jordan Schneider both went 2-for-3, with 3 RBIs from Gross and two from Schneider. Jagger Mitchell (2 RBIs) and Gus Allred rounded out the hitting with one apiece.

Allred picked up the win on the mound for the Outlaws, giving up one run on three hits and striking out one in two and two-thirds innings of relief. Starter Clayton Moyles pitched two and a third innings, giving up two runs on five hits, striking out one.

Outlaws 12,

Rock Springs 9

Game two of Wednesday’s doubleheader was a bit more competitive, as is usually the case when the Outlaws and Sandpuppies square off.

Evanston picked up right where they left off, plating five runs in the bottom of the first. The scoring charge was highlighted by a two-run home run by Clayton Moyles, his first of the season.

“Funny story — we had a steal on for that particular pitch,” coach Thompson said, laughing. “Clayton wasn’t even supposed to swing. So he swung, and I got a little angry. But then it went over the fence, and I wasn’t angry anymore. I guess he thought it was a hit-and-run, maybe.”

The Outlaws scored a run in the second and two in the third, highlighted by an RBI double by Casey Periman and an RBI by Reid Gross on a fielder’s choice. Down 8-2 in the top of the fourth, Rock Springs plated four runs to cut the lead to 8-6; they cut the lead to one with a run in the top of the fifth to make it 8-7.

The Outlaws answered with four runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth, led by a two-run double from Gus Allred. Rock Springs would score twice more, but that’s as close as the Sandpuppies would get, falling 12-9.

Evanston scattered nine hits over seven innings, led by Allred, who finished 3-for-4 with a double, 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Moyles had a homer and 2 RBIs, Periman had an RBI double and Fisher, Mitchell and Brenden Thompson had a hit apiece, with RBIs from Fisher and Thompson.

Caysen Smith picked up the win on the bump for the Outlaws, giving up nine runs on nine hits (six earned) and striking out four in six and a third innings.

“Caysen Smith pitched fantastic,” Thompson said. “There were nine runs on the board, but I wouldn’t give very many of those to him. Our defense let him down a little bit, at times.”

Derek MacDonald pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief, with no hits and no runs.

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