Jul 15, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe top two teams from the district tournament qualify for state.
Lander Little League all-star baseball coach John Gans called Cody the team to beat at the Wyoming Little League District 1 tournament for 11-12-year-olds.
The tournament starts with the opening round games Wednesday in Cody.
Lander is a No. 1 seed after sweeping Riverton in a best-of-three series last week.
"The district is a strong field this year," Gans said. "Cody does have pretty good pitching. Cody has an incredible hitting machine. They hit very solid and very hard."
Lander downed Riverton 6-5 and 7-5 for the top seed.
Riverton has a No. 2 seed.
With the top seed in the tournament, Lander received a bye in the opening round.
Lander will play the winner of Cody-Kemmerer on Thursday in the semifinals. The time of the game will be announced after the first day is finished.
"There is huge pressure on the Thursday game," Gans said. "It's very likely that it will be Cody. We got beaten so bad by Cody that the expectations aren't really high. I always like coming in as the underdogs."
The winner of the game will qualify for the district championship and earn a spot for the state tournament.
The top two teams from the district tournament advance to state.
Riverton will play at 4 p.m. Wednesday against Big Horn. Riverton is the No. 2 seed from the Central division.
Big Horn is the No. 2 seed from the North division. Cody won the North division with a 2-0 record. Big Horn placed second at 1-1, and Powell finished third (0-2).
At 1 p.m. Wednesday, Green River (No. 1 seed/ Southwest) plays Powell (No 3 seed/North).
There is a consolation bracket after the opening round, but the teams can't come back to qualify for state.
Gans said the coaching staff is thinking about starting Derick Green on the mound in the first game of districts.
Green pitched the first game vs. Riverton last week.
"Derick is a fast pitcher, but Cody hits fast pitching," Gans said. "He has a curveball, and he is a big kid from a close distance from the mound. That has an impact."
Devon Kuck and Spencer Smithbaker also could pitch for Lander.
"We have a number of people that can throw," Gans said.
Kuck got the victory for Lander on Tuesday night vs. Riverton.
"In some of the early tournaments, Devon had some early difficulties in game situations," Gans said. "Devon overcame that the last few rounds. Devon pitched over 70 percent strikes on Tuesday night. It was really pretty amazing. We were pretty impressed."
When Kuck isn't pitching, the right-hander will play third base.
Smithbaker or Green play will play first base.
"They are both tall people for us," Gans said.
Noah Gans plays second, and Jacob Lytle is the shortstop.
"Noah and Jacob both play together well," coach Gans said.
Bridger Kimber is the catcher for the Lander squad.
"Bridger is solid at blocking," Gans said.
Gans said William Atnip will anchor Lander in the outfield from centerfield
Riverton enters the district tournament 0-3 against Big Horn.
"Big Horn is a very tough team for us," Riverton manager Mike Fisher said.
Big Horn has players from Lovell.
"Big Horn has two very good pitchers," Fisher said. "They have a very strong team overall."land
Riverton's Ridge McCoy was the hitting star vs. Lander. McCoy belted two home runs in the first game against Lander.
McCoy came back and had one home run the next day and a single to the outfield. Riverton only scored 10 runs in 12 innings vs. Lander.
"We need to hit better," Fisher said. "We need more offense. We need to score runners that are on base in scoring position. That was our main problem the last two times we played Big Horn."
Fisher knows his defense needs to be solid for all six innings.
"We need to avoid the one big inning that gets us in trouble," Fisher said. "We lost three games by a total of five runs."
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