Jul 7, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorThe 10-and-under all-star squad was ahead 12-2 only to lose 16-15 in the play-in game of the Lee Martinez Memorial.
It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
Good thing, because the Lander 10-and-under all-stars began poorly on Thursday night at Saban Complex in Riverton, falling behind by a 12-2 deficit after 3 1/2 innings.
Worse yet, as they came to bat in the bottom of the fourth, only three outs separated them from a 10-run rule defeat and a quick trip to the loser's bracket of the Lee Martinez Memorial Tournament.
However, that was when the green-clad Legends' fortunes began to turn -- and for the better.
After jumping out to that 10-run advantage, Riverton was outscored the rest of the way by a 14-3 margin in a 16-15 Lander walk-off victory.
Early on, it was all Riverton.
Gabe Clark lined a double just inside the third-base line to open the top of the first and then stole third, followed by an eight-pitch Gavin Draper walk, during which he fouled off several pitches, not giving in until he had reached first base safely to put runners at the corners with no outs.
Gage Treber and Blake Gantenbein banged back-to-back base hits to plate Clark and Draper before Jackson Larsen continued the assault with a triple, driving in another pair of runs. It was 4-0 before Lander even swung a bat.
But the Legends bounced back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to halve the gap to 4-2.
It wasn't close for long, though, as Riverton exploded for another six in the top of the second.
Six consecutive batters hit safely, highlighted by a Clark double to make it 10-2.
The next three half-innings were played crisply, without any runs crossing the plate, until Lander began the epic fightback in the bottom of the fourth with three runs after Riverton had posted a pair in the top half of the frame.
Still, the score was only 12-5 and it remained a long way back to victory for the Legends.
An eight-run fifth for Lander fixed that in a hurry. and it was deadlocked at 13-13 entering the sixth inning.
In the top of the sixth, Kail Suhn opened with an infield single, then stole second before the next batter walked to put runners on first and second for Clark, who was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with no outs.
Draper then worked another walk to force home the go-ahead run and an RBI groundout by Gantenbein made it 15-13.
However, Lander didn't fight all the way back from the early deficit to be denied at this point.
In the bottom of the sixth, back-to-back bases-on-balls and a hit batter followed by another free pass pulled Lander with a single run at 15-14 set the stage for Robertson, who drove in the tying and winning runs with a single.
Riverton was relegated to the loser's bracket on Friday, while Lander moved on to face Green River at 12:30 p.m.
Riverton 4 6 0 2 1 2 -- 15
Lander 2 0 0 3 8 3 -- 16
Riverton - Clark, 2-4, BB, HBP; Draper, 1-2, 3 BB; Treber, 2-4; K. Martinez, 0-0, BB; Gantenbein, 3-4; Frost, 1-1; R. Martinez, 1-4; Larsen, 2-4; Jackson, 0-4; Stevens, 0-3; Suhn, 1-1; Carruth, 1-2, BB, HBP.
Lander - Kihn, 1-4; Baker, 0-0, 4 BB; Kempf, 1-3; Hollingshead, 1-2, BB, HBP; Romer, 0-0, 4 BB; Robertson, 1-3; Jones, 1-3; Neundorf, 0-1, 2 BB; Plaisted, 0-2; Groenke, 0-2; Hammonds, 1-3.
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