SHERIDAN — Sheridan head coach Ben Phillips kept the postgame speech relatively upbeat. The Troopers did many things well against Gillette Wednesday at Thorne-Rider Stadium. The game just got away from Sheridan late.
After the Troopers held a lead going into the eighth inning, the Roughriders scored six unanswered runs to run away with an 8-4 victory in a nine-inning, nonconference game.
“We played seven innings of really good baseball today, and then just kind of fell apart,” Phillips said. “… There wasn’t a lot of things I was disappointed in. I thought Quinn McCafferty did a great job pitching for us. We talked about how we need to put the ball in play more often with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. We are struggling to get runs across. We need those. Guys are swinging a little too hard, trying to hit a home run when all we need is contact.”
That problem reared its ugly head early and often Wednesday. The Troopers stranded four in the first two innings — three in scoring position — and it just snowballed from there. In all, Sheridan exiled 12 runners, nine of which were in scoring position, and advanced a runner to at least second base in every inning but the last.
“I think there’s a little bit of pressure with a young team in those situations,” Sheridan’s Race Johnston said. “We are trying to do what we can, but then we try and overexert in those situations, and we just got to learn to sit back, relax and just let it happen.”
Phillips alluded to McCafferty’s outing: six innings, one earned run on seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
For a majority of the season, Phillips has liked what he’s seen from his starters and just wants to see his young bats come around.
“Our starting pitching has been great for us all year, we just have 16-year-old bats at the plate,” Phillips said. “Our bats are young, and we have a tough time, a lot of times, with situational hitting. It isn’t the best. We got some guys that can get ahold of it, but with some situational stuff — and knowing that you don’t need to swing hard at this moment, you just need to put the ball in play to get the run in — they don’t quite understand that yet.”
Jacob Boint logged two hits, which included a base-clearing, three-run double in the sixth inning that vaulted Sheridan ahead 4-2. The Troopers held the upper hand until the eighth inning when the Roughriders scored three runs, all with two outs, to take the 5-4 edge into the final frame.
That’s when the Troopers, as Phillips put it, “exploded,” and committed multiple errors in the ninth that gave Gillette plenty of cushion.
Austin Borzenski tossed two innings of relief, and Eric Taylor entered the game to pitch the final frame.
Borzenski also recorded a two-hit game with a double, while Quinton Brooks earned two hits, as well. McCafferty had the other RBI for the Troopers.
Wednesday marked senior night for Sheridan. Borzenski, Brooks, Johnston and Caleb Keller were honored prior to first pitch. Borzenski and Keller will turn 19 before Jan. 1, 2019, meaning they can’t return next season. Brooks and Johnston, on the other hand, can elect to play for the Troopers next year if they want as they both don’t turn 19 until after Jan. 1.
Sheridan — which dropped to 21-39 on the year — travels to Riverton Thursday for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. The Troopers picked up two forfeit wins Tuesday when Casper didn’t show for a doubleheader in Sheridan. The Troopers return to conference play — where they’re 0-2 — Monday at Gillette.