SHERIDAN — The thunder and aluminum bats boomed at Thorne-Rider Stadium Tuesday evening. A storm came and went, and so did the Riverton Raiders as the Sheridan Troopers sent them home early with a doubleheader sweep.
The Troopers churned out 20 hits in two shortened five-inning games — one via rain, the other via 10-run mercy rule. Sheridan won 10-2 and 14-4.
In the fifth inning of game one, Sheridan leading 10-2 and showing no signs of letting up, starting pitcher Jacob Boint fired pitches to the plate through gobs of cotton blowing in from nearby cottonwood trees in what looked like a scene from the movie “Intersteller.” Eventually, lightning struck, rain poured and the Troopers left the field three outs away from an official win.
But the heavy winds helped the cause and blew the storm through after just a short break, and the Thorne-Rider grounds crew quickly salvaged the infield to resume play. Three outs later, Sheridan snatched a game-one victory.
With more rain in the forecast, the two teams rolled right into game two, and the Troopers built on the momentum of the first game.
After a nine-hit game one, Sheridan tallied 11 hits in 24 at-bats in the second game to go with six walks. The team combined for 11 RBIs in the game and was well on its way to more when the 14th run came across the plate to end the game.
With no outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning, Nolan McCafferty roped a fastball off the left-field wall that on any other day would have cleared the bases.
But the Troopers only needed one, and they snatched their 28th win of the season just as rain drops began to sprinkle on the red helmets littering the infield.
Sheridan (28-12) is playing its best baseball of the season as it preps for a busy July. Tuesday’s wins came on the heels of a championship at the Creighton Prep Tournament in Omaha over the weekend. The Troopers went 3-1 and knocked off Creighton Prep 8-7 to close the tournament against teams that Sheridan head coach Ben Phillips said were “full of Division I players.”
“Our starting pitching was amazing in that tournament,” Phillips said. “Noah Gustafson, Jeff Shanor, Connor Jorgenson and Quinton Brooks all went in there and had great outings. That’s how you can go in and beat teams from bigger schools and senior-dominated teams like that.”
Tuesday’s doubleheader was an opportunity for Phillips to rest some of the arms from the weekend and get some more reps for his younger players. Every active player saw the field Tuesday, but the head coach said expectations didn’t change.
“Those guys who played all week, they’re tired; their arms are sore,” Phillips said of the regular starters. “Not only do these guys need to come in and fill those spots, but they need to produce. When I put them in those games, I expect them to get hits and play good defense, to throw strikes, to do all the things our starters do.”
Phillips went with Boint and Quinn McCafferty as starters in the two games with Austin Borzenski throwing a couple of relief innings — all Troopers newcomers this year. Boint gave up one run in the first inning, and McCafferty gave up four runs in his first inning before settling in.
Phillips said it was a good opportunity for his young starters to make adjustments and get comfortable settling into a game.
“They did a great job of executing more than just being dependent on velocity and fastball,” the coach said. “When those kids get older, the fastball is still good, but you need to have a setup pitch with curveballs and changing location. We just talked about approach and what pitches to throw to the hitters.”
After the early runs, though, both starters took care of business. Boint allowed just one more run and ended the game with six strikeouts. McCafferty gave up no runs after his first inning, struck out four and didn’t walk a single batter.
Blake King went 3 for 5 on the day in the leadoff spot, scoring four runs and driving in two. Designated hitter Jorgenson went 3 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs.
The Troopers close out the month with three road trips, beginning with a doubleheader against Cody Friday.