Jun 27, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorAfter a 5-1 American Legion baseball loss on Tuesday afternoon to the Lovell Mustangs, the Riverton Raiders were on a four-game Northwest conference losing streak and in need of a league victory.
Riverton ended the conference losing streak by picking up a 15-5 victory over the Mustangs in the second game of the doubleheader at Roy Peck Field. The game was stopped in the sixth because of the 10-run mercy rule.
The Raiders are 8-10 on the season and 2-4 in league play.
"It was a must-win game for us in the second game," Riverton starting catcher Nick Esposito said. "We felt like we had the first one in the bag. In the second game, we knew that we really needed to work."
Esposito, Johnny Souza and Baylor Beers all had two hits apiece for the Raiders in the second game.
"Our hitting picked up," Esposito said. "We had much less errors in the second game. We all felt that we all played much better."
Riverton Raiders manager Jeremy McCormick missed the doubleheader vs. Lovell because of vacation. Former Riverton manager Cody Beers filled in on Tuesday.
"The wind stopped blowing and we started to hit the ball," Beers said. "The wind was 30 to 40 miles per hour. Lovell responded better to that than we did."
The two games on Tuesday finished the first half of the conference season for the Raiders.
The Powell Pioneers swept the Raiders last Thursday in Park County.
"It makes those games with Lovell, Cody and Powell in the second half of the season even bigger," Beers said.
Riverton will play in the Cody Wood Bat tournament Friday through Sunday.
The Raiders play at 2:30 p.m. on Friday vs. the Billings (Mont.) Halos.
Riverton battles Grand Junction, Colo., at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The Raiders face Cody at 7 p.m. in the final game on the second day.
"We will do some different things in the first two games," Beers said.
Lovell 5, Riverton 1
Souza gave up one run on two errors in the top of the first inning in the opener.
Souza settled down on the mound in the second and third innings to keep the Mustangs scoreless.
Lovell added its second run at the top of the fourth inning. Riverton put one on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Souza stuck out the side in the top of the sixth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Riverton's Josh Oaks singled to open the inning. Oaks stole second to be in position to deadlock the game.
Souza bunted the ball and was safe at first base, but Lovell threw out Oaks at home plate to remain ahead.
Lovell scored three insurance runs off Souza in the seventh on three hits and two walks. Souza had 11 strikeouts in the game.
"Johnny was throwing great in the wind for what he was faced with," Esposito said. "He did a really great job. His curveball wasn't really working for him because he was working against the wind. We made some adjustments. We just didn't play well behind him."
Riverton 15, Lovell 5
Gerald Childers was off the strike zone in the first inning of the second game, and the Mustangs took advantage by scoring three runs.
Riverton took the lead for good with five runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning. Esposito, Baylor Beers, Childers and Oaks had the hits.
"We talked about mechanics and Gerald was just a little bit wild in the first inning," Esposito said. "He calmed down for us. He did a good job for us. He kept it a low-scoring game. That is what we needed."
Riverton crossed home plate two more times in the bottom of the second. Esposito had his second double of the game.
The Raiders increased their cushion in the bottom of the third on three more runs to build a 10-4 lead.
Childers needed only seven pitches to record three outs in the top of the fourth.
Riverton put the game away in the fifth and sixth innings for its second league win of the year.
Childers finished the game throwing 111 pitches in six innings of work.
The right-hander gave up three hits on 10 walks and eight strikeouts in the win.
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