SHERIDAN — Ethan Hoopes hit two home runs to get the Troopers over Cheyenne Post 6 in their first league game Saturday night.
Drew Adriaens did his part on the mound, throwing a complete game and striking out 11 batters as Sheridan held on for the 9-7 win.
With his team down 7-6, the second baseman hit his second home run of the game, a three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth to give Sheridan the win.
“For us to be able to start off conference play with a win was good,” head coach Ben Phillips said. “Drew got stronger and stronger as he went along and he won the game for us.
“Offensively we came up with some huge hits.”
Playing three home games over the weekend, Sheridan lost to the Billings Scarletts earlier Saturday in a 16-6 mercy rule game that ended in the sixth inning. Billings beat the Troopers again 16-4 Sunday afternoon, hitting five home runs off three Sheridan Troopers pitchers.
But Saturday night, the Troop got the one that mattered against their conference foe.
Hoopes hit his two line-drive shots to left field, the first in the bottom of the third inning, extending the Troopers lead to 6-1.
“Ethan works hard every day in practice,” Phillips said. “He’s a sponge, and you can’t say that about everyone. I want all the kids to be that way. He’s just one of those kids I feel confident in putting in there.
“He’s been a great surprise, but I knew he had it in him. He’s been playing well before that.”
The Troopers looked to be in control after Hoopes’ solo shot, but in the fifth some sloppy baseball in the field coupled with a five-hit inning for Cheyenne made things interesting. When it was all said and done, Cheyenne had scored five runs and taken a 7-6 lead, helped by outfielders not hitting their cutoff man and opportunistic baserunning.
Adriaens hung in and struck out Greg Ashley to end the inning. Back on offense, he recorded his third hit of the game, a single to center field, and Kaul Eisele followed suit, setting the scene for Hoopes. With two outs, Hoopes drove a moonshot high into the net hanging behind the left field wall.
Adriaens recorded the final nine outs in order without allowing a hit or a walk. “Drew did a good job, he really started locating well and kept them off balance,” Phillips said. His ace threw 157 pitches, walking only five and allowing six earned runs on nine hits.
Other than the fifth inning, Sheridan (4-3, 1-0) dominated their A League opponent Saturday night as they continued to show the ability to swing the bat well. Tony Mort had two RBIs, and Hoopes finished with two hits and a walk in three at bats.
Mark Munson hit a home run to left in the Saturday loss to Billings, and Kaul Eisele had two RBIs Sunday afternoon.
“There’s some other kids swinging the bats well,” Phillips said of his team’s early progress. “Cheyenne and Billings had some pretty good pitchers. We’re just going to have to get used to that.”
While Cheyenne beat Billings in the middle game Saturday, Billings showed its class in two wins over the Troopers this weekend, especially flexing their muscles Sunday as the game was mercy ruled after the fifth inning.
Connor McCafferty threw in the loss to the Scarletts Saturday and Skyler Holwell got the start Sunday. McCafferty was chased after three innings as he allowed eight runs, and Holwell gave up two home runs allowing six and striking out five.
“We’ve got some guys that will be showing up later in the year that are quality pitchers, and we’ve got some quality guys right now,” Phillips said. “The problem is we’re just pitching behind too many batters right now. They need to build some confidence, believe in themselves.
“We’ll be good enough for now with our pitching rotation,” he added. “They have good stuff, it just seems like they’re just afraid to throw strikes right now.”
Sheridan is in Billings and Powell next weekend before they travel to a four-day Memorial Day tournament in Gillette.