Outlaws’ state hopes end at District Tourney

Outlaws pitcher Brecken Rich fires toward the plate during Thursday’s loser-out game against Green River at the Legion A West District Tournament in Lovell. Evanston lost the game 12-6, missing a berth in this week’s State Tournament in Sheridan. (COURTESY PHOTO/Seth Romsa, Powell Tribune)

Losses to Lovell, Green River close book on 2023

A quick glance at the Legion A West District Tournament bracket seemed to show a favorable route to this week’s state tournament for the Evanston Legion A baseball team, the No. 2-seed out of the Southwest.

Lovell and Green River had other plans. The Outlaws opened the tournament against the No. 3-seed Mustangs, losing a tightly-played contest in the later innings, 5-2.

“It was kind of a hard one to swallow,” said Outlaws manager Nick Small. “The game against Lovell was a really good baseball game. We play six times, we’ll win five of them. But every ball we hit, they played it. They’d get a few runners on base, get a big hit here and there, while our big hits came with nobody on base.”

The loss set up a loser-out scenario Thursday against a familiar foe in Green River, a team the Boys of Post 41 had split a twin bill with just days before. After taking an early 3-0 lead, the Outlaws saw their state hopes disintegrate as the game wore on, as the Knights used a pair of six-run innings to send Evanston home with a 12-6 loss.

“After Green River, I told the boys, there’s a couple of ways they could handle this – you can blame somebody, or take ownership and get better with it,” Small said. “You can make all the excuses you want – rain delay, this, that, umpire, teammate – but, at the end of the day, each one of us has to take accountability, and decide what we can do to get better. Success doesn’t come to everyone right out of the gate – it’s not always easy. Hopefully, we can learn from this, and have success next year.”

The Outlaws finished the season with a 20-21 record, and will return all but one player – Brodee Clifton – from this year’s roster.

“Overall, it was a good season for us,” Small said. “We were one game above .500 going into the postseason, and I thought it was a successful season. There are definitely some things we can do better, and, hopefully, continue to grow in the areas that we did well.”

Lovell 5,

Outlaws 2

The Outlaws opened the Legion A West District Tournament Wednesday against host Lovell (21-23), with ace Walker Wilson getting the start on the mound for Evanston.

With the game tied 2-2, the Mustangs plated two runs in the top of the fourth and one more in the top of the sixth to advance with a 5-2 win.

“Lovell had some timely hits, and we didn’t,” Small explained. “Walker pitched well – unfortunately, he walked a few, and they always seemed to get a big hit right after and put one across. Lovell’s pitcher was throwing a heck of a game – he probably had one of his best games of the season on us. But we were hitting the ball – every ball was stung pretty hard, just right at somebody. But that’s just how it went. It was a great baseball game – unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of it.”

Lovell led 2-0 in the bottom of the second, when Braxton Bauer led off with a double, followed by a single from Brecken Rich; Bauer later scored on an error to make it 2-1. The Outlaws scored again in the bottom of the third, an RBI single by Bauer that scored Gavin Oliver, who had tripled in his at-bat.

Wilson took the loss, giving up five runs on six hits (all earned) and striking out three in five and two-thirds innings. Damian Kaman pitched an inning and a third in relief, striking out three.

The Outlaws had seven hits in the contest, with two hits each from Rich and Bauer; Ryder Wilson, Oliver and Kaman had a hit apiece. Oliver finished with a triple, while Bauer had the Outlaws’ only RBI.

Green River 12,

Outlaws 6

Thursday found Evanston squaring off against a familiar foe in a loser-out contest, and despite taking an early 3-0 lead, the Outlaws never quite found their groove against a determined Green River squad. The Knights used a pair of six-run innings to close the book on Evanston’s season, 12-6.

“The Green River game – we scored first, they responded, and we kind of shut down,” Small said. “We had some internal problems going on, and just never got it back right.”

Brecken Rich started on the bump for the Outlaws, allowing 12 runs on 13 hits (nine earned), striking out one in three and a third innings of work. Gavin Oliver pitched two and two-thirds innings in relief, giving up no runs on no hits, striking out four.

Walker Wilson led the Outlaws at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI; Brodee Clifton also had a multi-hit game, collecting a pair of hits and scoring a run. Braxton Bauer, Jackson Osborne and Rich rounded out the hitting with one apiece.