SHERIDAN — It took Rapid City Post 320 just four pitches to seize a lead against the Sheridan Troopers at Thorne-Rider Stadium Wednesday. And it was a lead Post 320 claimed in style.
Sheridan’s Quinn McCafferty hung a curveball and paid for it, as the off-speed pitch was relocated over the big green wall in left field. But the loud run didn’t affect McCafferty. He didn’t let anger grab hold or dwell on the solo shot. He shook it off swiftly and dialed himself back in.
“I wasn’t really rattled,” McCafferty said. “I knew we’d come back in and get a run or two.”
McCafferty settled in and grew stronger and sharper as the game wore on Wednesday, and his offense more than picked him up. Sheridan rallied for a 12-4 victory, its 10th win in the last 11 outings, to improve to 17-15 on the season.
The Troopers are in the midst of a midseason uptick. What’s the main reason for that? The offense.
Sheridan averaged 10.8 runs per game over its last 11 games. Through the first 24 contests of the season, the Troopers had scored in double figures only four times.
The bats have come around of late, and that’s precisely why McCafferty wasn’t worried after allowing a first-inning dinger.
“We are putting the ball in play a lot better than we were in the beginning of the year, and that has gotten us a lot more runs,” McCafferty said. “We are making (the opponent) make plays in the field instead of us striking out and coming back to the dugout. We are barreling balls up and playing well right now.”
It’s not just one big frame, either. The Troopers put up numerous crooked numbers Wednesday to make McCafferty plenty comfortable in the last few frames.
Sheridan responded to Post 320’s first-inning home run with a run of its own in the bottom half of the first. The Troopers put up two more in the second, however, Rapid City responded with three in the fourth to regain a brief 4-3 edge.
Sheridan exploded for five in its half of the fourth, and McCafferty didn’t show any more chinks in the armor.
“When Quinn started to settle in, that helped us out at the plate,” Sheridan’s Ayden Roush said. “We knew we’d have some defense. We knew we’d score some runs if Quinn would go up there and put up some zeros.”
A four-run sixth inning and a game that started a little shaky for the Troopers had turned into a rout. McCafferty went the distance, finishing the game allowing eight hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
All but one of Sheridan’s starting nine recorded a hit. Jaron Brewer and Cody Kilpatrick led the way with two hits and two RBIs, apiece. Roush, Kellen Mentock and Eric Taylor also enjoyed multi-hit games.
The Troopers host the Billings Halos in doubleheader Friday beginning at 5 p.m.