Jun 4, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorRiverton defeated Casper in the opener of the Roy Peck Invitational behind multi-hit games from Alex Fabricus and Josiah Washington and solid pitching from Dalton Baldes and Dillon Fabricus.
If the Riverton Raiders are to become a contender across the landscape of Wyoming American Legion baseball, they'll need to step up and beat the big boys of the Cowboy State.
A big step in that direction was taken at Roy Peck Field on Friday, as the Raiders defeated Casper, 7-3, in the opener of the Roy Peck Invitational.
Alex Fabricus and Josiah Washington each had a pair of hits for Riverton, while mound men Dalton Baldes and Dillon Fabricus offered solid outings on the hill for the home side.
Following a pair of scoreless frames to open the contest, the visitors put a pair of runs on the board against starter Baldes in the top of the third.
Casper's Jackson McLean reached on a Washington error at shortstop, then advanced to third when Riverton center fielder Brodie Roden misplayed a drive off the bat of Garrett Clasen for a two-base error, leaving runners at second and third, with only one out.
Lane Fanto then lifted a sacrifice fly to left, allowing McLean to score the game's first run, followed by a Ryan Keith single to right, which plated Clasen for a 2-0 advantage.
According to Riverton manager Troy Brown, the early miscues by his club's defense weren't exactly what the doctor ordered.
"Those errors in the first few innings killed us," said Brown. "Which was a shame because Dalton was pounding the strike zone."
However, the Raiders made amends for their early lack of leather with their wood in the bottom of the third, scoring a run to cut the deficit in half.
Kyren Higgs drew a two-out base-on-balls from Roughnecks starter Daniel Roberts, then stole second and scored on an infield single by Alex Fabricus when shortstop Fanto committed an error on the play.
Dillon Fabricus replaced Baldes on the mound for the Raiders to begin the third and posted a scoreless frame, allowing the home club to get right back to work in the bottom half of the fourth.
But, not before the Raiders' defense redeemed themselves for their earlier gaffes by executing a perfect relay to snuff out a potential Roughnecks run.
Conner Rogers drove a ball deep to the right-center field gap for a double, but never broke stride in an attempt to make it to third.
Roden rifled a perfect relay to Washington, who threw a dart to third baseman Cody Frazier, who applied the tag for the out.
Riverton then parlayed its defensive prowess into offensive momentum.
A Washington double to left was followed by a walk to Matt Fisher, bringing up catcher Anthony Allen, who delivered an RBI groundout, with Fisher moving over to third and the game was deadlocked at 2-2.
Dillon Lassiter popped out to first for the second out, but the Raiders went on to add another five runs in the frame.
After Frazier had skillfully worked a walk on a 3-2 count after fouling several pitches off in the process, Roden and Higgs singled, followed by an Alex Fabricus triple, increasing the lead to 6-2.
Dillon Fabricus then drove home brother Alex and it was 7-2, providing all the runs Riverton would need on the day.
Casper pulled a run back in the sixth, but it was far too little, far too late.
In the top of the sixth, with runners on first and second, Frazier scooped up a hard shot down the line, alertly stepped on third for the force, then fired across the diamond for a double play to quickly erase any hopes of further Casper damage.
"Cody made a big play for us right there," said Brown. "It helped Dillon get through the inning."
Using wood bats wasn't a foreign concept for the Raiders, he said.
"We've been practicing with wood all spring," said Brown. "With aluminum bats, you can get away with lazy swings, but with wood, you really have to square it up."
Brown said the win was critical in continuing his club's upward improvement curve.
"It was a very big game for us," he said. "Now, we have Douglas tomorrow and we'll see where we're at."
Douglas 10, Riverton 7
It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
The Raiders began their game against Douglas on Saturday in fine fashion, scoring four runs in their half of the first inning to take a 4-1 lead, which they built on two frames later on the way to a 6-3 advantage after three innings.
However, it was how they finished which was the problem, committing one defensive blunder after another in a top of the fourth which saw the Cats plate seven runs in the frame, resulting in a 10-7 victory for the visitors.
Back-to-back-to-back fly balls to the Raiders outfield were allowed to drop in for hits, leaving the bases loaded with no outs when the home side should've been back batting already.
"When we play defense like that, we're letting down the guys who are pitching," said Brown. "It was basically a lack of intensity."
However, in the early going, it was all Raiders.
Roden led off the bottom of the first with a base hit, followed by a Frazier walk before consecutive singles by Alex Fabricus and Washington chased home Roden and Frazier for a 2-1 lead.
Dillon Fabricus and Baldes each added run-scoring base hits for a 4-1 Riverton advantage.
But, the next half-inning was when the wheels came off the home club, who could only manage to get a single run back in the bottom of the fourth.
For Brown, the loss was unacceptable, he said.
"A loss like that doesn't sit very well we me at all," said Brown. "We hit the ball hard, but we need to work on finishing games."
As for his club's misadventures in the field, the Raiders boss was at a loss.
"We've been playing clean up until yesterday," he said. "We won a game in which we made four errors and today we lost one when we made four errors."
Brown expects more from his squad, but they have to expect more of themselves, he said.
"We have the talent to be better than a .500 team," said Brown. "The guys have to realize they can't play like they used to."
Riverton (5-5, 0-2 A West) moved on to play in the early game on Sunday at 9 a.m., then will play at either 1 or 3 p.m. depending on the result.
Casper 0 0 2 0 0 1 x -- 3
Riverton 0 0 1 6 0 x x -- 7
Casper - McLean, 0-2; Clasen, 0-3; Fanto, 0-3; Keith, 3-3; Bila, 0-2; Julian, 0-3; Rogers, 1-1, 3B, 2 BB; Mcfee, 0-2; Carr, 0-1.
Riverton - Roden, 1-3, RBI; Frazier, 0-2; Higgs, 1-1, 2 BB, RBI; A. Fabricus, 2-3, 3B, 2 RBI; D. Fabricus, 1-3, RBI; Washington, 2-3, 2B; Draper, 1-1; Fisher, 0-1; Allen, 1-3, RBI; Lassiter, 0-3.
Douglas 1 0 2 7 0 x x -- 10
Riverton 4 0 2 1 0 x x -- 7
Douglas - Bibowski, 1-4; DeLuna, 1-2; Barker, o-2; Hunsicker, 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Silzell, 1-1, 3 RBI; Brooks, 0-3; Shelver, 1-4, 2 RBI; Ollie, 0-1; Howell, 0-3.
Riverton - Roden 2-4; Frazier, 1-2; A. Fabricus, 2-3, RBI; Washington, 2-3, RBI; D. Fabricus, 1-2, 2 RBI; Baldes, 1-2, RBI; Draper, 0-3; Lassiter, 0-2; Fisher, 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI.
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