CHEYENNE – If you were casually late to Powers Field, you were right on time.
Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 saved the fireworks for later. After blowing a fuse in the first three innings, the powder blue-clad hometown ballclub exploded at the most opportune time when the game was up for grabs.
Post 6 went on a torrid run in the fourth inning and strung together seven hits, including three for extra bases to break open a tie game en route to a 9-3 victory to punch a ticket to the semifinal round of the Firecracker Tournament.
Cheyenne will face Triple Crown (Colorado) at 9 a.m. today. Triple Crown defeated Cheyenne 6-0 on June 30 in Denver.
“We’re just trying to play as clean of baseball as we can,” Post 6 manager Ty Lain said. “Bouncing back from a tough night where we lose a heartbreaker in extra innings and then get a game called on us that we’re trailing in. Mentally, we had to get ourselves going again a little bit and bounce back.”
Friday’s extra-inning loss was tough to swallow. So, too, was taking a loss to Casper in a rain-shortened game later that night. Thus, it took the Sixers (37-17) an extended period of time to get back into a groove.
Three innings to be exact.
The Lambkins took a 1-0 lead off an RBI double to left-center field off the bat of first baseman Hayden Iverson. Starter Jonah Meadows took over from there. The Lambkins’ right-hander created fits for the Sixers, who stranded three runners in the first inning.
Cheyenne tied it 1-1 of two walks, a stolen base and a wild pitch in the second. Hits were tough to come by.
“We weren’t finding ourselves in our at-bats and (we) started stringing them together a little bit towards the end,” Sixers second baseman Nico Vite said.
The Sixers did just that.
Meadows walked a pair and the Sixers sewed together a two-out rally that, combined with an approach they stuck with all game, turned the game upside down.
Lain stressed the importance of taking the game one pitch at a time, no matter the situation or outcome. His team maintained that belief, and it paid off in a big way.
Vite ripped a two-run triple to deep left-center field for the first extra-base hit of the game for the Sixers.
“(Meadows) threw me a ball and I was hoping he was going to give me a fastball right there,” said Vite, who went 1 for 3 with two RBI. “I waited for the fastball, got it, hit it.”
Suddenly, the offense was rolling. The Sixers followed suit with four consecutive hits, including an RBI double by first baseman Max Pedroza, who went 3 for 4 on the day. By the time the final out of the inning was recorded, the Sixers sent 12 hitters to the plate and carried an 8-1 lead.
“We got one big hit, and it finally opened it up,” Lain said. “It felt like our guys could just relax a little bit. We got the lead at 2-1 and then we just strung consecutive (at-bats) together.
“With our focus and our mindset that way, I think it gives us a chance to hopefully string some innings together, get some two-out rallies and just keep winning pitches.”
Lost in the shuffle of the fourth inning was the complete game performance from sophomore starter Trenton Rodriguez. In just his third start this summer, the Cheyenne righty allowed three runs, two earned, struck out five and walked three. He needed 107 pitches to pick up his third win of the season.
“It’s a big boost to my confidence,” Rodriguez said. “Helping me feel more confident is big, knowing I can go the distance.”
He also enjoyed the run support that helped him close out the game.
“It was a big relief,” he said. “Knowing that it’s a close game, I’m trying to do my job. The team comes in and does a great job of getting runs.”
CHEYENNE 9, FORT COLLINS 3
Fort Collins ........................… 100 001 1 – 3 7 2
Cheyenne …........................... 010 701 X – 9 10 1
Fort Collins pitching: Meadows, Templeton (4) and Meza. Cheyenne pitching: Rodriguez and Johnson.
W: Rodriguez (4-2). L: Meadows.
2B: Fort Collins 2 (Iverson, Seest), Cheyenne 1 (Pedroza). 3B: Cheyenne 2 (Macleary, Vite).