SHERIDAN — Quinn McCafferty wasted no time on the mound Wednesday against Casper.
The Sheridan pitcher came out attacking the strike zone and didn’t relent. McCafferty took only a few seconds between pitches, got ahead of batters in the count and used a mix of fastball and off-speed pitches to keep the hitters off balance. He nearly went the distance, totaling 6 1/2 innings and allowing one unearned run on five hits with seven strikeouts.
McCafferty’s sterling performance on the mound came in handy for the Troopers, who earned a 3-1 victory in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday against Casper.
Sheridan Head Coach Ben Phillips said McCafferty’s control and variety have helped him on the mound all season, and Wednesday was no exception.
“He locates his fastball,” Phillips said. “He can throw any pitch for a strike at any time in the count. That’s why he’s having such a successful year … He just goes out and owns the game.”
McCafferty went through the first five frames in nearly perfect fashion and only allowed two hits. He honed in on the low, inside portion of the strike zone and said his fastball and curveball worked well.
McCafferty said the first couple frames required a few more pitches than he hoped, but he found his groove in the middle innings and called it one of his better outings of the season.
“I feel like I’ve had good stuff for most of my starts, and that was just another one of them,” McCafferty said.
Sheridan’s recently potent offense was largely contained. The Troopers managed only five hits and scored all of their runs in the second inning thanks to three Casper errors. Sheridan put the ball in play and advanced runners after multiple miscues, providing just enough support for McCafferty. Race Johnston recorded the lone RBI for the Troopers, while Eric Taylor had two hits and scored a run.
Things became a bit dicey in the sixth inning after an error by the Troopers and two straight hits for Casper resulted in a run.
With runners on second and third and only one out, the game hung in the balance. McCafferty recovered, though, fanning one batter before getting a flyout to end the inning.
“I knew I couldn’t let those next two runs in or else it’d be a different ballgame,” McCafferty said.
McCafferty aimed for a complete game but hit his limit of 105 pitches in the top of the seventh inning. Carter Dubberley came in for the final two outs and recorded the save after stranding Casper runners on first and third base.
Phillips expressed pride in Dubberley recording the final two outs in a pressure situation.
The head coach said the team is playing well and aside from Wednesday’s game, the bats have stepped up in the last month for Sheridan.
McCafferty agreed and said offense has played a vital role in the team’s recent successes.
“Our pitching and fielding has always been there, but our hitting is definitely coming around in the past few weeks,” McCafferty said.
Phillips said he pays little attention to the team’s record during the first two months of the season as long as the group plays its best ball come July, and the Troopers are doing just that.
In one of the rare instances recently where Sheridan’s bats were held in check, McCafferty delivered a strong start to help the Troopers pick up the victory.
Sheridan won the second contest 5-3 thanks to a four-run first inning and a quality start from Ayden Roush, who lasted 6 1/2 innings, gave up one earned run on six hits and struck out eight.
The Troopers now stand at 25-17 overall and have won 16 of their last 18 outings.
Sheridan hosts Cody for a Sunday doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.