GILLETTE – The Archie Hay Post 24 American Legion baseball team hit a snag this past weekend while competing in the Gillette Hladky Tournament. Rock Springs dropped four-straight games before wrapping things up with a win over the Emmanuel Halos on Sunday.
You could say Sunday’s victory was much needed for the Sand Puppies. Rock Springs dropped its opening game Thursday to Greeley GOJO 6-0. Later that night, in front of its home crowd, Gillette topped the Sand Puppies 16-1 after playing only three innings.
On Friday, Rock Springs fought hard to bounce back, but the Westco Zephyrs had other plans. The Sand Puppies took a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the second inning but couldn’t hang on. Westco came alive and scored nine-straight runs to beat Sand Puppies 9-2.
Come Saturday, Rock Springs scored early against the Post 320 Stars. Unfortunately, that one run wasn’t enough. Throughout the final four innings, the Stars went on a 6-0 tear and finished with a 7-1 victory.
ROCK SPRINGS 8, EMMANUEL 6
By the time Sunday arrived, Rock Springs was itching for a win. In the bottom of the first inning, with Caden Anderson on the mound, Emmanuel took a 1-0 lead on a passed ball. One pitch later, Anderson recorded his first strikeout for only the second out. Two batters later, Anderson gave up a single with a runner on third, bringing the Halos’ lead to 2-0.
Rock Springs tried to get even, but after being held scoreless in the first two innings, it wasn’t until the bottom of the third before the Sand Puppies bats got going. Destry Stevenson crushed a line drive double out to right field. Bobby Sains bunted, which allowed Stevenson to advance to third.
With two runners on and zero outs, Jayce Coughlin stepped to the plate. Before a pitch was thrown, Sains stole second, giving Rock Springs two runners in scoring position. Stevenson then raced in on passed ball to cut the Halos’ lead in half. One pitch later, Coughlin doubled out to left field, bringing in Sains for the tying run.
Shawn Murphy kept the Sand Puppies momentum alive. Before grounding out for only the second out, Murphy’s hit brought in Drew Grossnickle from third base for a 3-2 Rock Springs lead.
Dylan Schultz reached base after an error by the Halos shortstop, and his ground ball single allowed Martinez to advance from third base and extend the lead to 4-2.
Trailing by two, Emmanuel went into the top of the fourth inning looking to strike, but the Sand Puppies defense contained them. Anderson forced two-straight ground outs from the mound before striking out the third batter.
Back on offense, Rock Springs looked to expand its lead. Unfortunately, the Halos returned the favor. Emmanuel’s pitcher forced Stevenson to fly out for the first out. Up next, Sains hit a ground ball straight to the pitcher for another easy out at first. Two batters later, Martinez struck to end the inning.
Not only was the Sand Puppies offense having a tough time expanding its lead, but in the top of the fifth inning the defense allowed the Halos to score three runs and regain the lead.
Fortunately for Rock Springs, Murphy got things going in the bottom of the inning with a monster triple to bring the Sand Puppies’ spirits back to life. Ryan Powers then singled, allowing Murphy to tie the game at 5-5.
It wasn’t long before Rock Springs regained the lead. Two batters later, Stevenson stepped to the plate. Not only did he reach base after an error by Emmanuel’s shortstop, but his hit allowed Schultz to sprint across home plate for a one-run advantage.
Two batters later, Emmanuel’s pitcher found himself in a tight jam. With only two outs and the bases loaded, Coughlin was walked, bringing the score to 7-5.
Trailing by two for the second time this game, Emmanuel wasn’t done fighting. In the top of the sixth, the Halos moved within one after scoring on a passed ball. Fortunately for Rock Springs, that was Emmanuel’s only run of the inning.
Still holding onto a one-point lead, the Sand Puppies looked to put the game away. Right from the start, Dominik Gunyan got the bats going after crushing a double out to left field. Three batters later, Emmanuel’s pitcher walked Powers to load the bases.
Ross hit a fly ball out to left field. Before flying out, which allowed Gunyan time to tag up and score the game’s final run.
After winning on Sunday, Rock Springs will look to stay on course when the team travels to Idaho on Thursday, July 4, for the start of the Freemont Idaho Tournament.