SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Troopers varsity baseball team didn’t let an early defeat deter it at the Wyoming AA State Tournament over the last five days.
After dropping a game to Jackson in the tournament’s opening round, the Troopers battled to win four straight do-or-die contests to earn a spot in the championship game for the second straight season.
Unfortunately, the run was cut just short as Cheyenne took revenge from an earlier loss to win the championship 8-4 over the Troopers Sunday.
Sheridan’s run through the loser’s bracket began Thursday with a tight 14-13 win over Evanston. From there, the Troopers took down all three of their conference foes to keep the season alive at the double-elimination tournament.
The team kicked things off with an 11-4 win over Laramie thanks to a 17-hit night and a huge seven-run third inning. Quinton Brooks, Sheridan’s ace, struggled a bit on the mound, but his teammates backed him up at the plate. Every Sheridan starter had a hit in the game, five of whom had multi-hit games.
Andrew Ratty had an impressive 4-for-5 night with two runs and an RBI.
The hits kept coming in Sheridan’s showdown with Cheyenne Saturday morning. The Troopers had 15 hits against the reigning AA champions and capitalized on a big four-run inning to win 5-3.
Although Sheridan struggled a bit to turn hits into runs, Connor Jorgenson had his best outing of the season on the mound, throwing all nine innings and allowing just two earned runs.
Jeff Shanor picked right up for Jorgenson in a semifinal matchup with Gillette. Shanor went all nine innings, as well, pitching a shutout in Sheridan’s 9-0 drubbing of its rival.
At the plate, the Troopers switched their luck and turned fewer hits into added runs. They were able to score nine runs on just seven hits, thanks in large part to five errors from Gillette. Shanor helped himself with a 2-for-3 game, and he scored three runs. He, Coy Steel and Kade Eisele all hit big doubles in the game, as well.
The momentous weekend all culminated with a rematch against Cheyenne Sunday afternoon for a shot at the state title. The winner of the championship kept its season going with a trip to the regional tournament.
The game was a rubber match for the two sides. Sheridan and Cheyenne split the four games heading into Sunday’s championship, the Troopers taking the last two. Three of the four games were decided by two or fewer runs.
Nolan McCafferty got the start for Sheridan, and while the pitching held sturdy for the early part of the game, the Troopers’ bats had trouble keeping up with Cheyenne’s pitching staff.
Sheridan was held scoreless for the first five innings and went three-up, three-down in four of them. The team’s lone baserunners during that stretch came via an error and a walk.
Cheyenne took a 4-0 lead into the sixth inning.
The Troopers hit a brief stretch of momentum in the sixth inning, taking one back on the scoreboard. But Cheyenne responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning to all but put the game away.
Sheridan answered with three runs in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to catch up to the early barrage from the reigning champs.
The Troopers finished the season 45-22.
NOTES: Sheridan Legion Baseball board member and avid supporter Dan Bilyeu was inducted into the first class of the Wyoming Baseball Hall of Fame during the state tournament as recognition of his dedication to the sport in Sheridan. … Jorgenson hit 12 for 25 (.480) in the tournament to lead the team. He had at least one hit in every game. … The Troopers made a similar run at the 1969 state tournament. The team fell 12-3 to Powell in the opener before winning six straight games, including a 6-4 win over Cody in the championship.