CHEYENNE – R.J. Prince asked Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 manager Ty Lain to let him finish what he started.
Prince and the Sixers’ defense rewarded Lain’s confidence with a 1-2-3 inning that secured a 5-3 victory over the Parker (Colorado) Lightning Gold in the championship of the Firecracker tournament Sunday at Powers Field.
“(Lain) came and asked me if my arm felt good enough to finish out the game,” Prince said. “I told him it was and told him I wanted the chance to finish out the game.
“I just pitched to contact that last inning, and let my defense work behind me.”
Prince stomped off the mound toward his teammates, flexed his biceps and let out a scream after Cheyenne left fielder Dominic Lopez corralled a flyball off the bat of Ethan Sloan to end the game.
Prince fanned six batters and scattered six hits in his seven innings on the mound. The lone hiccup in his line was the start of the sixth inning.
Travis Vaala blooped a single into shallow left field, and scored on a triple to center field by Tyler Dinges. Dinges scored on a groundout to cut Cheyenne’s lead to 4-3.
Prince retired six consecutive hitters to close out the game.
“I had all of my pitches working, and was able to put them where I wanted,” Prince said. “That really helped me.”
Prince’s effort was the Sixers’ second complete game performance of the day. Junior Travis Onisto went the distance in a 10-3 semifinal win over Triple Crown.
“You could see they had the ‘next pitch’ mentality, and they put any mistakes they made behind them and moved on,” Lain said. “We knew the stuff they had was good enough to get us through it as long as they were there mentally. It’s a testament to those guys.”
Post 6 (39-17) grabbed the lead in the fifth inning. Second baseman Nico Vite led off the frame with a single to center field. He stole second base before scoring on Andrew Johnson’s single up the middle for a 2-1 lead.
Johnson stole second and then scored on Cody Brooks’ double off the center field fence to make it 3-1. Brooks advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on Prince’s single to center for a 4-1 edge.
“We had a simple approach, and didn’t go to the plate with the thought of hitting it to the fence,” Johnson said. “Instead, we tried to get on base, move the next guy over and push across one run at a time.”
Lain has seen his ballclub be far more explosive offensively, but he left Powers Field happy with what Post 6 did with the bats.
“We weren’t putting up big runs every inning, but we were doing productive things, putting up quality at-bats and working the pitcher,” he said. “Both games, we were able to break through and get what we needed.
“I’m really happy with the way we’re swinging the bats. The runs might not be super-high, but we’re taking tough, quality at-bats every single time.”
CHEYENNE 5, PARKER 3
Parker…… 001 002 0 – 3 6 2
Cheyenne…… 001 031 X – 5 7 0
Parker pitching: Hansen, Kahn (5), Volla (5) and Martin. Cheyenne pitching: Prince and Pedroza.
W: Prince (4-1). L: Kahn.
2B: Parker 1 (Levesque); Cheyenne 1 (Brooks). 3B: Parker 1 (Dinges); Cheyenne 1 (Vite).
Cheyenne 10, Triple Crown 3
Onisto helped the Sixers overcame a slow start during a 10-3 victory in the semifinals Sunday morning.
The left-hander pitched a seven-inning complete game, striking out six and walking just one. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, which was the only frame in which he had trouble. He surrendered a two-run triple during the inning.
The junior rallied by retiring seven of the next eight batters.
“The umpire was really giving me the outside calls, so I tried to do a good job of hitting the corners,” Onisto said. “I wasn’t going to blow it by those hitters because they’re really good hitters. So I was just trying to hit my spots and do the best I could do.”
Onisto has pitched complete games in three of his last four outings. The only one he didn’t go the distance in was a relief appearance.
Prince grounded into a bases-loaded double play to end the first inning. Cheyenne had a runner on second with one out during the second inning, but couldn’t score him.
Post 6 finally got on the scoreboard in the third when Vite doubled to left-center and scored on Johnson’s single up the middle. Johnson took second on the throw and scored from there on a single by Brooks for a 2-0 lead.
Cheyenne extended the lead to 4-1 in the fifth when Pedroza doubled ff the fence in right-center. Brooks tripled to center and then scored on Dominic Lopez’s fielder’s choice.
The Sixers added six runs over the final two innings to break the game open.
Johnson was 4 for 5 with an RBI, while Brooks was 2 for 4 with three RBIS. Prince and Lopez both had a hit and two RBIs, while Pedroza was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
CHEYENNE 10, TRIPLE CROWN 3
Cheyenne…… 002 022 4 – 10 12 0
Triple Crown…… 000 120 0 – 3 6 2
Cheyenne pitching: Onisto and Pedroza. Triple Crown pitching: Norsen, Shepherd and Whitaker.
W: Onisto (7-0). L: Norsen.
2B: Cheyenne 2 (Brooks, Vite); Triple Crown 1 (Romero). 3B: Cheyenne 2 (Brooks, Pedroza); Triple Crown 1 (Norsen).