Outlaws split home twin bill with Green River

Outlaws baserunner Ryan Hoover slides under the tag of Green River’s second baseman during the first game of a day/night doubleheader Wednesday at Ross Kesterson Field. The Knights won the game 7-1; Evanston won the nightcap, 8-5. (HERALD PHOTO/Don Cogger)

The Evanston Legion A baseball team closed out its conference schedule last Wednesday with a home split against Green River, a pair of games loaded with playoff implications.

The Knights won the opener of the day/night doubleheader 7-1, all but clinching the No. 1 seed out of the Southwest for this week’s District Tournament in Lovell; for the Outlaws to grab the top seed, they’d have to beat Green River in the nightcap by seven or more runs.

It wasn’t to be. The Boys of Post 41 jumped out to an early lead in Game 2, but couldn’t create the gap necessary in an 8-5 win, the final home game of the season at Ross Kesterson Field.

“It was a competitive series — Green River is always competitive here at the end of the season,” said Outlaws manager Nick Small. “It was a good conference doubleheader, for both teams.”

The Outlaws took time between games to honor seniors Walker Wilson and Braxton Bauer, for their hard work and dedication to the program over the years.

“Walker and Braxton have been a part of this program for a long time — they both started when they were 13-years-old,” Small said. “They’re in their fifth year of playing with us, and they’ve been good ones for us. They’ve paid their dues, and been good teammates. They’ve really come into their own as the leaders of the group this season — we go on road trips, having those two in charge makes my job easy, because they’re both really good kids. It’s nice having those two policing the rest of the team.”

Having earned the No. 2 seed out of the Southwest for the District A Tournament, the Outlaws now head to Lovell this week, where they’ll open against the host team on Wednesday. Evanston played a pair of games against the Mustangs back in April, earning a split.

“We’re feeling good heading into the District Tournament,” Small said. “We took a round of hitting last night, and we’re still swinging the bat well. Our spot in the bracket is pretty good — I like where we’re sitting. We’re set up for a successful weekend. This first game, we’re going to have to withstand the storm — we have Lovell on their home field, but we’ll be the home team, which is nice. It will take a few innings, but if we can keep it close into the third and fourth, we’ll break it open and come out on top of that one.”

Green River 7,

Outlaws 1

The Outlaws scored one run in the bottom of the first in game one of Wednesday’s day/night doubleheader, and that would be the only run of the contest for the home team, as Green River put themselves in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the Southwest with a 7-1 win.

“Too many misplayed balls in that first game — we cut back on those ground balls that got away from us, and we probably come out on top of that one,” Small said.

The usually sure-handed Outlaws committed seven errors in the contest; all seven of Green River’s runs were unearned.

Brecken Rich (4-3) took the loss on the mound for Evanston, giving up four runs on four hits, and striking out five over six innings of work. Damian Kaman pitched an inning in relief, giving up three runs on two hits, striking out one.

The Outlaws had six hits, led by Braxton Bauer, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI; Walker Wilson, Gavin Oliver, Ryan Hoover, Jackson Osborne and Rich had a hit apiece.

Outlaws 8,

Green River 5

The Outlaws flipped the script in Wednesday’s nightcap, plating four runs in the bottom of the first and holding the lead throughout, earning the split with an 8-5 win.

“We came back and made plays in that second game,” Small said. “We had good pitching, and scored enough runs to win the ball game.”

Walker Wilson (7-2) continued his impressive season on the mound, allowing five runs on eight hits and striking out seven in six innings of work; Gavin Oliver picked up his fourth save of the season, allowing just one hit and striking out one.

“Walker’s pitching really well for us,” Small said. “He’s been our most reliable pitcher this year, as far as consistency.”

With two on and two out in the bottom of the first following a double by Walker Wilson and a walk to Oliver, Ryan Hoover smacked a bases-clearing double to put the Outlaws up 2-0. After a Jacson Osborne single, Brecken Rich hit an RBI single to make it 3-0; Osborne later scored on a passed ball to make it 4-0.

“We’re hitting the ball well,” Small said. “Should be good heading into the postseason.”

The Outlaws added a run in the bottom of the second and three more in the bottom of the fifth to put the game out of reach at 8-5.

Evanston had just four hits in the contest, led by a 1-4, 3 RBI performance by Hoover. Walker Wilson also had a double, while Osborne and Rich had a hit apiece; Rich also drove in a run.