It’s been a whirlwind schedule for the Evanston Legion AA baseball team, who closed out the week with six games in three days, including a doubleheader at home and a trip to Riverton for the Roy Peck Wood Bat Tournament.
The Outlaws posted a 4-2 record during that stretch, with a sweep of Rock Springs Thursday on their home turf and a second-place finish at the Riverton tourney over the weekend. Evanston is now 9-6 on the season, and will host the Ross Kesterson Memorial Tournament beginning Friday.
“We batted well, and our defense is playing well,” said Outlaws manager Chad Thompson. “Our main focus is defense at this point, and I think our pitching is coming along very well.”
Rock Springs 0
After opening the season with nine games on the road, the Outlaws played at the friendly confines of Ross Kesterson Field for the first time Thursday, hosting a non-conference doubleheader against conference rival Rock Springs.
Game one of the twin bill was all Evanston, as Ryan Fisher and Jordan Schneider combined for a two-hit shutout, setting the tone for a 12-0 win.
Evanston wasted no time in getting on the board, plating four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Reid Gross, Conner Peterson, Ryan Fisher and Gus Allred all crossed the plate for the Outlaws, with singles in the inning by Gross, Brenden Thompson and Clayton Moyles.
Evanston followed that with two more runs in the bottom of the second. Gross singled to lead off the inning, then had what may have been the play of the game a short time later — after advancing to second on a wild pitch and reaching third on a grounder to first, Gross surprised both teams (and possibly his own coach) by stealing home for the third run of the contest.
It was as exciting a play as you’ll see in Legion baseball, though whether Gross had the green light to go depends on who you ask.
“He [Gross] kept asking me, and I wouldn’t answer him,” Thompson said, laughing. “And then he went. Later on he asked if I was mad at him, and I told him no. But then I asked ‘Did I say you could go?’ and he was like, ‘You didn’t say I couldn’t.’ I told him, ‘OK, fair enough.’”
Jagger Mitchell scored the second run of the inning on a Casey Periman grounder to make it 6-0 after two.
The Outlaws had their biggest inning of the game in the bottom of the third, with five runs crossing the plate to make it 11-0. Evanston had five hits in the inning, with singles by Thompson, Moyles, Schneider, Peterson and Fisher; Thompson, Moyles, Schneider, Gross and Peterson all crossed the plate for the Outlaws.
After another scoreless inning by Rock Springs and the Outlaws up 12-0, the game was called due to the 10-run rule in the bottom of the fifth.
Fisher got the start on the bump for the Outlaws and pitched a beauty, giving up no runs and just one hit, striking out three in three innings of work. Schneider was just as impressive in relief, giving up one hit and striking out two.
“Besides our defense, I think our pitching was what really stood out to me in this one,” Thompson said. “I don’t think we even had a walk in that game. When you don’t put guys on for free, and your defense is rolling behind you, you’ll have a pretty good outcome most of the time.”
Evanston had nine hits in the contest, led by Moyles with a 2-for-2, 2 RBI performance. Peterson and Thompson also had two hits apiece, with Peterson knocking in a run. Gross, Fisher and Schneider rounded out the hits with one each; Fisher knocked in a pair of runs, while Peterson had an RBI.
“The guys were stroking the ball well,” coach Thompson said. “I thought Brenden [Thompson] had a nice game at the plate — he struggled that first week, but he’s hitting the ball now with confidence.”
Rock Springs 2
Evanston took an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first — Reid Gross led off the game with a double, and was knocked in by a single from Kendell Cummings. Cummings later scored on a double by Jagger Mitchell to make it 2-0 after one.
The Sand Puppies showed they weren’t going to go down without a fight, halving Evanston’s lead with a run in the top of the second. The Outlaws answered with six runs in the same inning, however, putting the game out of reach. Caysen Smith singled to lead off the inning, then scored along with Derek MacDonald on Gross’ second double of the game to make it 4-0. Ryan Fisher and Jordan Schneider had RBI singles in the inning for an 8-1 lead.
“I thought Derek MacDonald had a good game for us in that second game,” Thompson said. “He hasn’t had a chance to get on the field a lot this year, but he got the opportunity there to play in the outfield. We’ve been working on his tracking the ball better, and he got to everything that was hit out to him. And he’s even swinging the bat better than he has been. We’re a pretty deep team, so it’s nice to get these guys in when we can.”
Rock Springs scored once more in the top of the fourth, though the Outlaws answered with another big inning, plating four runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by an RBI double by Bodie Wicks. Four players crossed the plate for Evanston to make it 12-2.
Mitchell picked up the win for the Outlaws on the mound, giving up a run on three hits in three innings of work. Mitchell also showed off his negotiating skills during the third inning, convincing Thompson on a visit to the mound to let him finish out the inning.
“He [Mitchell] was on a bit of a pitch count, and I went out to pull him,” Thompson said with a chuckle. “He said ‘I want to finish this batter,’ so we discussed what his options were. I told him he couldn’t pitch again until Sunday if he finished the batter, and he agreed to that. The other coaches kidded me about it when I came back to the dugout, ‘Well, who’s in charge?’ and I said, ‘Well, apparently him.’”
The Outlaws pounded out 13 hits in the contest, led by Gross, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. Fisher, Mitchell and Schneider finished with two hits and an RBI each, while Cummings, Casey Periman, Wicks and Smith each had a hit.
Roy Peck Wood Bat
Outlaws 5, Torrington 4
The Outlaws (9-6) opened the Roy Peck Wood Bat Tournament Saturday against Torrington (5-5, 2-0 in Single A Southeast Conference play) winning a nailbiter against the Tigers 5-4.
Down 3-2 in the top of the sixth, the Outlaws retook the lead, scoring two runs on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Ryan Fisher; Brenden Thompson knocked in Jagger Mitchell a short time later to make it 5-3. Torrington scored once more in the bottom of the sixth but could get no closer, as the Outlaws held on for the 5-4 win.
Moyles got the start on the hill for Evanston, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits and striking out six over five innings to earn the win. Fisher and Gus Allred pitched in relief, with Allred picking up the save.
At the plate, the Outlaws were led by Periman and Allred with two hits apiece; Kendall Cummings, Mitchell and Moyles all had a hit. Fisher led the team with a pair of RBIs, while Peterson and Thompson knocked in one run each.
Outlaws 4, Riverton 0
The Outlaws played the host team Riverton Raiders in the second game of the Roy Peck Tourney, with pitchers Guss Allred and Caysen Smith combining for a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 win.
Evanston plated a run in the top of the first, after Casey Periman scored on a Jagger Mitchell single to make it 1-0. The game turned into a pitcher’s duel after that, with neither team able to score again until the top of the fifth inning.
The Outlaws broke the game open in the fifth, scoring three runs to secure the 4-0 win. Back-to-back singles by Conner Peterson and Jordan Schneider set the stage for some late-inning heroics by Periman, who tripled to clear the bases. Ryan Fisher knocked in Periman later in the inning with an RBI single to close out the scoring.
Allred was dealing on the mound for the Outlaws, giving up just one hit in five innings and striking out nine. Smith pitched an inning in relief, recording a strikeout.
Evanston had nine hits in the contest, led by Periman, who went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs. Allred helped his own cause at the plate with two hits, while Peterson, Schneider, Mitchell, Fisher and Smith finished with a hit each.
Severance, CO 15,
After extending their win streak to eight games Saturday with wins over Torrington and Riverton, the Outlaws ran into a buzzsaw Sunday morning against Severance, Colorado.
Evanston managed just two hits while giving up 11 against the Sun Devils, who cruised to a 15-5 win.
Jagger Mitchell got the start on the bump for the Outlaws, giving up three runs on three hits (one earned) and striking out four over three innings. Casey Periman and Brenden Thompson pitched in relief, with Periman striking out three and Thompson fanning two.
Thompson helped his cause at the plate with a three-run double, while Fisher accounted for the team’s only other hit, an RBI double in the first inning.
Torrington 4, Outlaws 3
Despite the loss to Severance earlier in the day, the Outlaws advanced to the 1st/2nd place game Sunday afternoon, squaring off against a Torrington team that was looking for a little payback.
Tied at 2-2 after four innings, Torrington broke loose with a two-run fifth then held off a late charge in the sixth by the Outlaws to win the rematch 4-3.
Evanston had the lead early, plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back two-out singles by Casey Periman and Jagger Mitchell set the table for Ryan Fisher, who cleared the bases with a single to make it 2-0.
Torrington answered with a run in the second and a run in the third to tie the game at 2-2; after a scoreless fourth by both teams, the Tigers plated two more runs in the fifth to take a two-run lead at 4-2.
The Outlaws came alive in the bottom of the sixth, after Kendell Cummings singled in Ryan Fisher to make it 4-3. Evanston kept it going in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases. But with two outs and the winning run on second, Jordan Schneider flew out to left to end the game.
Fisher got the start on the mound for the Outlaws, giving up a run on two hits and striking out three in two innings of work. Cayson Smith gave up three runs on three hits in relief, and took the loss; Periman also pitched in relief, with no runs on no hits and fanning one.
Evanston finished with 10 hits in the contest, led by Fisher, who went 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBIs. Brenden Thompson also went 2-for-3, while Jagger Mitchell was 2-for-2 with a run scored. Conner Peterson, Periman, Cummings and Moyles each had a hit.
The Outlaws travel to Rock Tuesday for a non-conference doubleheader, then host the Ross Kesterson Memorial Tournament this weekend.