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Young Little League stars head to District baseball tournament
Damon DeVries and his 9-10-year-old all-star baseball teammates open the district tournament at 6 p.m. on Wednesday vs. Green River. Photo by Bruce Tippets

Young Little League stars head to District baseball tourney

Jul 17, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

A No. 1 seed has been earned by the Riverton 9-10-year-old all-star baseball team for the Wyoming Little League District 1 tournament Wednesday through Friday in Cody.

Riverton swept Lander 4-3 and 9-3 last week to gain the top seed. There are eight teams in the tournament. The top two teams qualify for the state tournament July 25-28 in Green River.

Riverton is the No. 1 seed from the central region, and Lander is the No. 2 seed.

"I think that getting the No. 1 seed means more about how we have been playing," Riverton coach Jason Muehler said. "Going into the tournament anything could happen, but we feel good about where we are."

Riverton opens the tournament at 6 p.m. Wednesday vs. Green River.

Green River is the No. 2 seed from the south. Rock Springs swept Green River 9-4 and 12-2 in postseason play.

Games in the 9-10-year-old division are five innings long.

"Green River is the wild-card situation," Muehler said. "We really don't know anything about Green River. We haven't played them this year. We spent most of our time playing in tournaments up north in Cody and Powell."

Lander plays Rock Springs at noon Wednesday in another opening-round game.

At 3 p.m., Cody plays (No. 1 seed/north) vs. Bridger Valley (No. 2 seed/west).

The winner of Riverton-Green River plays on Thursday in the semifinals vs. the winner of Kemmerer (No. 1 seed/west) and Powell (No. 2 seed/north). The game times for Thursday will be announced when the first day is finished.

"We ran into an issue last year that the two best teams weren't represented from our district at state," Muehler said. "This year, I think that with the challenge game, we can be a little more sure that the two best teams will be at state."

The challenge game occurs when the third-place team hasn't played the second-place team in the district tournament. The winner of the game qualifies for the state tournament.

"I believe that it's a strong field," Muehler said. "We played Cody a number of times this year. We beat them the last time to win a tournament in Powell. Cody is a very tough team."

Riverton prospects

"We started out pretty cold the last two games," Muehler said. "What we stressed to the kids the last nine days of practice is to come ready to play the game."

In the second win vs. Lander, Riverton was down 3-1 in the top of the fifth. Riverton scored eight runs in the frame for the six-run victory.

"This is going to be the best baseball that we have seen all year," Muehler said. "I know that the teams are going to be gunning for the spots for the state tournament. They will be throwing their best people."

Muehler said the starting pitching will be a game-time decision for Riverton.

Dillon Lange and Jereko Martinez are the top two pitchers for Riverton.

"We are going to use those two guys in whatever capacity we feel that we need to," Muehler said.

Kendric Muehler and Brock Hinkle change off at the catcher spot.

"I love our infield," coach Muehler said. "They are probably one of the most solid infields at the 9-10-year-old level. I would put them at the top."

At first, Riverton either goes with Muehler and Hinkle. Konnor Gastan is the second baseman. Martinez and Kaden Kellner are the shortstops.

When Lange isn't pitching, the right-hander is at third base.

The starters in the outfield are Vincent Brown, Ridge Briggs and Damon DeVries.

"I don't feel like we are really lacking defense at all," Muehler said.

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