WHEATLAND – A tired bunch of Lobos returned to Wheatland Sunday night as the Spearfish (South Dakota) Tournament champions. The wild wolves pulled off several miracles with both their bats and their gloves as they came from behind in games that could have shortened their weekend.
The week that began with heartbreak as they lost their Tuesday tilt with the Laramie Rangers on a walk-off loss in the bottom of the ninth by a score of 10-9.
In a see-saw game that went back and forth and saw six lead changes, sloppy play from both teams in the field and a combined 19 runs and 20 hits, the rally to tie the game in the top of the ninth gave way to the surrendered run in the bottom of the ninth to bring the defeat.
Ned Hageman led the team with three hits and two RBIs. Dustin Karr took the loss, pitching 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs and striking out one batter.
With Laramie behind them, the determined Lobos headed for Spearfish where they would face five tough teams in Spearfish, Billings, Mont., Rapid City, S.D., Belle Fourche, S.D. and Douglas.
The tournament began June 3 where the Lobos faced Spearfish and overcame a 4-1 deficit with an explosive 11-run third inning which gave them more than enough runs on the board to secure the victory. For the game, Ryland Petroski, Jake Hicks and Cross Hernandez all knocked out three hits with Hernandez a four-bagger short of hitting for the cycle. Hageman led the team in RBIs with four. Langdon Goodrich was the winning pitcher, going 4 innings, while Petroski got the save with his inning of perfect pitching to close the door on Spearfish.
Moving up the bracket Friday, the Lobos faced a big-hitting Billings team who had severely overlooked the Wolves from little Wheatland. Although Billings took a 3-0 lead and had their hearts set on coasting to victory, didn’t anticipate the fifth and sixth inning bats of Wheatland. The Lobos gathered 2 in the fifth to make it close and then scored 4 in the sixth to go ahead. Although Billings threatened in the seventh, the defense held tight, and it was 2-0 on the tournament.
In the 6-4 hard fought battle, both Hernandez and Hicks gathered three hits apiece. Mytch Pollock pitched a masterful game for the victory giving up only three runs to a potentially dangerous Billings team and bringing a combination of heat and off-speed accuracy for eight strikeouts. Petroski came on for two innings to close the door and record the save.
Saturday, which was perhaps the game of the tournament, the favorites to win the whole thing, Rapid City stepped up to the plate in the first inning and promptly announced their intentions sending two players across the plate. The RC team who had beat up on their first two teams without forethought or malice had visions of grandeur.
By the third inning, scoring runs was as easy as breathing for Rapid City and they had built a 10-3 lead. As they were busy looking forward to their game against Belle Fourche, the Lobos were meanwhile busy turning their caps inside out and staging a coup. They went on an 11-0 run in the next three innings and held on through a furious seventh-inning rally to defeat the favorites, 14-12.
Hicks had the hot bat, finding the holes four times including sprinting around for two triples. He also had three RBIs, only to be outdone by Petroski who sent four men home. JP Anderson earned the win and went four innings giving up just two runs and picking up two Ks. Pollock came on for the save.
The Lobos then went on to play Belle Fourche under the lights and again found themselves behind in the early innings. By the end of the fourth, the Broncs had taken an 8-1 lead and it looked as if the Lobos had simply run out of steam.
Halfway through the fifth inning, they got a second wind and pretty much not only rallied but won the game in one inning’s work as they sent 10 men across the plate. After the dust settled, the Lobos were victorious 11-9 and were scheduled to play in Sunday’s championship game.
For the offensive attack, Hicks and Hageman combined for five of the teams 11 runs and Kade Preuit was the boss on the mound going 4 1/3 innings and picking up one strikeout. Hageman recorded the save.
In the championship game against Douglas the roles were reversed, and it was the Lobos that not only jumped out to a big lead but held that lead and their composure to defeat the Cats 9-8 in a closely contested nail biter.
Pollock had the hot hand in the batter’s box as he banged out three hits and had two RBIs which tied him with Noah Whitfield for team leaders. Hageman was the winning pitcher going 5 1/3 innings giving up five runs and gathering four strikeouts. Petroski came in and nailed down two strikeouts in earning the save.
“I feel like we played well at times,” Lobos’ head coach Mick Cochran said. “We showed some complacency early in games but had the grit to really compete in the later earnings. We managed to get several pitchers deep into their count which makes us much more prepared moving forward. We have really high goals for this team.”
The Lobos return to action tonight in Douglas in a rematch of Sunday’s championship game. The team will then travel to Torrington this coming weekend for the Bullock Tournament.