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Observer 11/24/14

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RICHLAND WINS IT IN TWO

MVP MOMENT: Richland's John Tierney (right), the tournament MVP, celebrates with teammate Chase Mitchell after scoring in the fifth inning of Tuesday's second championship game. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
MVP MOMENT: Richland's John Tierney (right), the tournament MVP, celebrates with teammate Chase Mitchell after scoring in the fifth inning of Tuesday's second championship game. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

Cheyenne made sure the Richland Knights worked harder for their regional American Legion baseball title.

The Wyoming state champs knocked off Washington's champions 7-5 Tuesday afternoon to force a second championship game at the American Legion Baseball Class "A" Northwest Regional Tournament at Optimist Field.

But Richland had few problems, winning the second game 14-4 in a mercy-rule shortened seven innings.

"I don't think we came prepared to play that first game," Richland manager Steve Lowe said. "I think we thought it was going to be a cakewalk. Wyoming did an awesome job of coming out ready to play ball."

Richland (49-16) had already beaten Cheyenne 12-1 Sunday. The Knights followed with an 11-1 win Monday over Mountain Home, Idaho, and entered the championship game outscoring opponents 48-7.

Richland's problem in the first game wasn't too hard to see.

"We hit the ball hard, just right at people a lot," Lowe said. "They hit the ball by people. We hit the ball into their gloves."

Lowe gave a short pep talk in between games.

"I just told them this is why we won (Monday), to make someone beat us twice. I really didn't have to say a whole lot," Lowe said.

His team responded by scoring in every inning except the first. Kyle Conley, who was 5-for-10 for the day, hit a three-run single in the fifth inning that broke open a relatively close game.

John Tierney had his fifth home run of the tournament and was named tournament MVP. The homer came in the third inning and cut Cheyenne's lead to 4-3.

Tierney batted .409 (9-for-22) and had 14 RBIs in the tournament. All that after sitting out the Washington state tournament with a bruised hip.

"I was really ready to get in and get my hands wet," Tierney said.

Despite the first-game loss, Tierney wasn't worried about the second game.

"I figured as a team we could come through and I knew what we were capable of."

Richland struck first in the second game with a pair of runs in the second inning.

Cheyenne answered by knocking Richland pitcher Tyler Cheney for four hits in the third. Paul Garcia and Brent Anthony each drove in runs, and a pair of Richland errors scored another pair.

Richland took the lead for good in the fourth. Lee Perez had a two-run single, and two Cheyenne errors brought home two more runs.

Conley's RBIs in the fifth broke open the game, and Brian Gana followed that with a double that scored Conley.

A dropped fly ball allowed two more runs to score in the sixth. The game ended in the seventh on a single by Kyle Ehlis that scored Nick Cejka, who had tripled to lead off the inning.

In the first game, an RBI-single by Johnny Coonts in the fourth inning gave Cheyenne the lead for good, 4-3. Charlie Payne walked home a run with the bases loaded in the fifth, and Gavin Wiljakainen singled home another run.

Richland got back a run in the seventh on another dropped fly ball, but Cheyenne banked an insurance run in the ninth on a single by Matt Melander.

Richland's final run of the game was on a double by Gana that scored Conley with two outs in the ninth.

For Cheyenne's part, injuries depleted the Hawks. Third baseman Grant Gering left in the third inning after aggravating a bruised hip by sliding into third base. Second baseman Gabe Gutierrez came out in the fifth with a bruised elbow. Relief pitcher Wiljakainen left later that inning to ice his arm and shoulder.

"It was kind of a trying time when we lost our starting third baseman and our starting second baseman, and our catcher (Anthony) was beat up," Wyoming coach Jerry Storebo said. "Everybody who had a chance got out there and gave their all."

Cheyenne won the sportsmanship trophy. It was the farthest a Wyoming team has come in the Northwest regional tournament.

First Game

CHEYENNE RICHLAND

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Coonts ss 4 2 2 1 Perez 2b 5 0 0 0

Garcia cf 5 1 2 1 Tierney 3b 5 2 1 0

G.Gutierrez 2b 5 1 1 1 K.Conley rf 5 3 4 1

Anthony c 4 2 1 0 Gana ss 5 0 2 1

Gering 3b 5 0 2 1 Roberts lf 4 0 1 1

Melander lf 3 0 1 1 Mitchell p 5 0 1 1

J.Gutierrez rf 5 0 0 0 Ehlis 1b 4 0 0 0

Payne 1b 3 1 1 1 Brown c 4 0 2 0

Wiljakainen dh 4 0 1 1 Meyers cf 3 0 1 0

Wheeler p 0 0 0 0 Cejka ph 1 0 0 0

VanReenn cf 0 0 0 0

Totals 38 7 11 7 Totals 41 5 12 4

Cheyenne WY 102 120 001 — 7 11 4

Richland WA 201 000 101 — 5 12 2

E — G.Gutierrez, Coonts 2, Garcia, Tierney, Gana. DP — Cheyenne 1. LOB — Cheyenne 9, Richland 10. 2B — Garcia, Tierney, Meyers, Gana. 3B — Coonts. SB — Gana, Brown. CS — Mitchell. S — Melander.

IP H R ER BB SO

Cheyenne

Wheeler W 9 12 5 3 1 3

Richland

Mitchell L 9 11 7 6 3 5

HBP — Melander (by Mitchell). WP — Mitchell.

Second Game

CHEYENNE RICHLAND

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Coonts ss 3 1 1 0 Perez 2b 4 2 1 2

Garcia cf 4 1 2 1 Tierney 3b 3 3 1 1

G.Gutierrez 2b 2 1 0 0 K.Conley rf 5 1 1 3

Bigelow rf 1 0 0 0 Gana ss 5 1 3 1

Anthony c 3 0 2 1 Cejka dh 3 2 2 0

Gering 3b 2 0 0 0 Roberts lf 3 0 0 0

Mullings 3b 1 0 0 0 VanReenn ph 1 0 0 0

Melander lf 3 0 0 0 Mitchell cf 3 2 1 1

J.Gutierrez 2b 3 0 0 0 Ehlis 1b 3 3 2 2

Payne 1b 3 0 0 0 Brown c 4 0 0 0

Wiljakainen p 1 1 1 0 Cheney p 0 0 0 0

Smith p 1 0 0 0 J.Conley p 0 0 0 0

Wheeler p 0 0 0 0

Totals 27 4 6 2 Totals 34 14 11 10

Cheyenne WY 004 000 0 — 4 6 4

Richland WA 021 442 1 — 14 11 2

Two outs when game ended on 10-run rule.

E — J.Gutierrez, Mullings, Coonts, Melander, Brown, Gana. DP — Cheyenne 1. LOB — Cheyenne 6, Richland 8. 2B — Garcia, Gana 2, Mitchell, Ehlis. 3B — Cejka. HR — Tierney (5). SB — K.Conley. CS — Gering.

IP H R ER BB SO

Cheyenne

Garcia L 3.1 5 6 5 4 5

Wiljakainen 1.1 3 5 4 3 1

Smith 1.0 1 2 0 2 1

Wheeler 1.0 2 1 1 0 2

Richland

Cheney W 5 6 4 2 3 8

J.Conley 2 0 0 0 0 1

HBP — G.Gutierrez (by Cheney), Cejka (by Wiljakainen). WP — Wiljakainen.

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