Tiger state tourney run ends one day shy of state title game

Andrew Towne
Posted 8/1/23

SHERIDAN – Torrington Tiger season ended on Saturday afternoon one game shy of reaching the state championship with only nine players on the roster.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Tiger state tourney run ends one day shy of state title game


SHERIDAN – Torrington Tiger season ended on Saturday afternoon one game shy of reaching the state championship with only nine players on the roster.

“We told those guys, the amount of physical and mental toughness they showed this tournament was unbelievable,” coach Jackson Jones said at the conclusion of state on Saturday. “You could tell, those umpires and other coaches were secretly rooting for us. Guys were playing sick. Guys were playing hurt. They stayed out there and competed against the best in the state.”

Following Wednesday morning’s loss to the Cody Cubs, the Tigers picked up thrilling victories over the Green River Knights and the Post 2 Casper Drillers.

On Thursday, facing elimination, the Tigers rallied from an 8-4 deficit to defeat Green River 11-8 in extra innings.

“We have told these guys to be mentally tough in this game,” coach Jackson Jones said. “They have to be, and they proved it so many times this year. They’ve won many of games in big spots where they’ve been able to mentally tough. They proved it again today.”

The Torrington offense started clicking in the third. Walks to Ryan Moorehouse and Nolan Long, as well as singles by Austin Short, Ben Firminhac and Mac Hibben gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

However, the Knights answered with three of their own in the bottom of the third and two in the fourth.

A sacrifice fly, cut the Green River lead to 5-4 in the fifth, but the Knights added three more in the fifth, extending the lead to 8-4.

Torrington tied the game in the sixth with three of the four runs coming with two out in the frame.

“That first arm they gave us, he’s been throwing great all year,” Jones said. “We knew he was going to come out and throw strikes against us. We had to put good ABs together and get his pitch count up.”

The Tigers were able to do that.

“Once we got him out, we were able to jump on the next guy,” Jones said.

The score remained tied through the seventh, leading to extra innings. Over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, the Tigers allowed only three more base runners, while Torrington broke the tie in the top of the eighth.

Short reached on an error to start the inning, and Ayden Desmond singled, scoring Short. A second Green River error allowed Long to drive in a second run. Hibben also picked up a single, and a sacrifice fly by Grady Shields, pushed the lead to three.

Green River got two on base, but neither advanced past second base as Desmond picked up the win in relief.

Desmond and Short combined for nine strike outs in the win, while Desmond, Firminhac, Hibben and Short had two hits each.

Team was feeling good about where they were at after the win.

“We are excited, and we’ll be ready to go,” Jones said. “We’ll keep grinding and doing what we have to do to win.”

And ready to go, the team was on Friday. The game against Casper proved to be another nail-bitter of an elimination game.

Behind Hibben’s one-hit complete-game performance, the Tigers knocked off the Drillers 1-0. He struck out five batters, and the lone hit he gave up came in the bottom of the third inning. Hibben threw the complete game on 84 pitches.

“At the start of July, he started progressing to that spot where we thought he could be,” Jones said. “At the district tournament, he threw in relief for us and threw lights out. He deserved the start today, and he did an unbelievable job. One of the best performances I’ve ever seen.”

The defense was stellar for the Tigers as well, recording multiple double players in a game which took less than an hour and a half to play.

“It’s easier when the guys behind you are making plays,” Jones said. “They were hitting the ball, but they were hitting it right to us.”

Ryan Moorehouse earned praise from the Jones for third play at third base.

“He stepped up at third base for us today,” Jones said. “He’s a younger kid that we brought up, and he did an amazing job.”

The game’s lone run came in the top of the seventh inning.

In the seventh, Drew Kramer and Moorehouse opened the game with singles, and with two out, Long singled to center field, driving in the go-ahead run.

“We knew one of us would have to find some grass,” Jones said. “Ryan and Drew did a great job at the bottom of the lineup getting on base and put the top of our lineup in position to do what they are supposed to do.”

In the bottom of the seventh, Casper left the tying run on second thanks to Torrington’s second error of the game.

Six Tiger batters accounted for seven hits. Long went 2-for-4, driving in the game’s lone run.

The victory setup a rematch with the Cody Cubs with the winner advancing to the state championship game against the Powell Pioneers on Sunday.

When the dust settled, the Cubs pulled away in the final two innings for a 4-1 win, ending the Tiger season.

Cody struck first in the top of the second inning, and the score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the bottom of the fifth.

Moorehouse was hit by a pitch, and Short walked. Desmond tied the game with an RBI single up the middle.

The tie was short-lived as the Cubs regained the lead with a run in the top of the sixth, adding two runs.

The Tigers weren’t going away quietly. Firminhac walked to load the bases with two out. Hibben was due up, and he was 2-for-3 on the day. However, Hibben never got a chance as Torrington was picked off base for the final out of the game.

Hibben collected two of the team’s four hits. Desmond and Moorehouse had the other two. 

Long was tagged with the loss in his second start against Cody at state. The Tiger senior struck out four over 5 2/3 innings on the max 105 pitches.

“They hit him, and he had to go against them again. He was ready to go,” Jones said. “There was no part of him that was afraid to go back against them. He threw a great game. We just couldn’t get the bats going for him.”

Torrington ended the season with a 32-16 record. The Tigers were also awarded the Sportsmanship Award at the conclusion of state tournament.

“Since I’ve been playing, I don’t know of a Torrington team that has had 30 wins for a baseball season,” Jones said. “It was a special season and is something that isn’t going to be forgotten soon. We didn’t do much. Those guys went out and played for each other and had an amazing year.”

It marks the end of the careers of Short, Long, Firminhac and Ryder Hackbarth.

“They’ve did an unbelievable job,” Jones said. “They left the program better than they found it. That’s all you can ask for.”