SHERIDAN — In its season opener, the Sheridan Jets baseball team gained a small measure of revenge on the squad that ended their season last year.
Sheridan soundly defeated the Gillette Rustlers twice Sunday in a chilly, rainy doubleheader. The Jets won the first contest 10-4 and second matchup 17-8 to begin their season on a high note.
Rain forced the second game to end early — the contest concluded with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning — but it provided more than enough time for Sheridan’s bats to start rolling. The Jets scored multiple runs in every inning, including six times in both the second and third frames.
Sheridan showed discipline at the plate, drawing nine walks and taking several hit-by-pitches to put runners in scoring position. That was especially true in the bottom of the second inning when Sheridan only recorded one hit but plated six runners. The Jets had four walks, two RBI groundouts, one HBP and one player reached on an error by Gillette.
Sheridan head coach Austin Cowen said the batters did an excellent job of forcing the Gillette pitchers to throw strikes and give them opportunities for base hits.
“We had their pitchers up against the ropes and we didn’t settle for going up there and swinging at (the) first pitch,” Cowen said. “… When they did throw strikes, we were hitting it pretty well.”
Brock Steel had a two-run single with two outs in the first inning on a line drive up the middle to give the Jets an early 3-0 cushion and a lead they never relinquished. Steel said he looked to capitalize with runners in scoring position and waited for pitches inside the strike zone.
“When you get the one (pitch) you gotta jump on it,” Steel said. “There’s no need to chase anything. That’s kind of our approach.”
Steel tallied three RBIs in the second game and was one of three players to do so.
Hunter Stone went 2-for-2 with four runs and four RBIs and Rich Hall recorded two hits and three RBIs.
Sheridan made a couple errors in the third inning that resulted in three runs for the Rustlers but otherwise played solid defense overall.
The wet conditions made it more difficult to grip the ball and for pitchers to plant and land their feet safely on the mound, but Cowen said the Jets largely did a nice job handling the elements.
“Overall we played two complete games in not ideal conditions, but for the most part we blocked it out and executed,” Cowen said.
Steel said it was fun playing in the rain and starting the season well.
The head coach concurred.
“The [players] have been working hard at practice doing the tedious work every day, so it’s good to come out and put it into game situations and then also to have a good outcome that we were looking for,” Cowen said.
Carter Dubberly pitched 2 1/2 innings for Sheridan and allowed five runs on five hits. David Almaraz came on in relief and recorded an out with the bases loaded to maintain a 9-5 lead.
With two wins over a familiar opponent, the Jets launched their season with a positive start.
Sheridan travels Sunday to Casper for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.