Jul 22, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterIt's been a long time since Lander has claimed a Little League baseball championship. In fact, Lander head coach Tracy Yates can't recall the last time Lander returned from a tournament with a title.
All that changed this week when the Lander Little League 9-10 year-old all-star team won the District 1 championship with a 5-3 win over host Cody Thursday and an 11-0 thumping of Kemmerer Friday.
With the wins and title, Lander will take the top seed from District 1 and play second-seeded Gillette all-stars from District 2 when state tournament play for the 9-10-year-olds opens Wednesday in Green River.
On Friday afternoon, Cody beat Kemmerer 12-2 for the second-place District 1 trophy. Cody will open against Laramie at the state tournament.
Laramie defeated Gillette American 9-5 in Gillette to claim the east 9-10 year-old District 2 title.
Thursday's Lander win over Cody in its semifinal contest punched the ticket to the state tournament.
In the other semifinal game, an apparent 2-1 Riverton win over Kemmerer was reversed amid controversy. Kemmerer was declared the winner of that game by forfeit when officials recognized that all Riverton players had not had the required one at-bat dictated by Little League tournament rules.
Riverton coaches argued to no avail that the infraction require that a forfeit be assessed and that there were other penalties prescribed by Little League rules that could apply.
Big Cody win
But Lander's win didn't surprise many.
"We weren't surprised that Lander beat Cody," Riverton Little League manager Jeremy Martinez said. "This is from the heart. We knew that Lander had it in them. They are a good team."
Lander used strong timely hitting and strong pitching to bring home tournament hardware.
Dominic Yates blasted a triple, and Max Mazurie, Jack Sweeney and Nic Kulow all were credited with doubles.
"Ty Massey was one walk away from pitching a perfect game. Many of us coaches have been around for along time and have never seen that happen. Today everyone chipped in. Our defense made the plays they had to. Ty just pitched an excellent game," Yates said, adding that Eli Mazurie and Conor Carey have been Lander's consistent hitters.
Lander tentatively is scheduled to play at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in their first round state contest.
"It's been quite some time ago since any Lander team has won district," Yates said.
"We are champions of District 1. I knew the boys could do it. They played two excellent, excellent games. You hit the ball and then you win," Yates said.
Team members with numbers include Sawyer Hitshew (23), Ryan Brinda (3), Max Mazurie (2), Eli Mazurie (5), Dominic Yates (55), Nic Kulow (22), Jack Sweeney (9), Ty Massey (24), Jaren Calkins (17), and Conor Carey (1).
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