Jul 18, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorLander's Eric Baker crushed a two-run homer Sunday in the final inning of the championship game for an 8-6 victory over Riverton in the annual "vintage" baseball tournament at South Pass City.
The tournament is part of Gold Rush Days at the state historic site. Players use old-fashioned equipment and play under somewhat different rules from the modern game.
Lander has now won four straight vintage baseball titles.
Lander players this year were Zach Baker, Brian Oland, Eric Baker, Andy Currah, Luke Stacy, Joe Malek, Ray Malek, Nick Schribner and Dalton Crane.
"We had two close games to win the tournament," Lander coach Ray Malek said. "The home run in the championship game was to left field. It was towering up high. We weren't even sure that it was going to go over. Somehow it just carried over the fence. We knew that it was going to be a tough play to make."
The tournament started in 2001.
Lander built an 8-4 lead in the title game.
Riverton came back to tie it at 8-8 before Lander's last at-bat.
"We had a few errors," Malek said. "Riverton always hits the ball well. We usually don't have a lot of errors."
Lander had the top of the order coming up when the score was tied in the final inning.
Zach Baker hit a double to set the stage for blast by Eric Baker.
"Eric had a good series for us," Malek said.
Baker plays first base and shortstop.
"I don't think he made an error all tournament for us," Malek said.
Joe Malek pitched the first four innings in the title game.
Zach Baker closed out the game on the mound.
"The championship game was pretty exciting," Riverton's Tyler Graham said. "Everybody was finally getting hits in the final inning."
Johnny Souza had a big two-run single to tie up the game.
"We just all got our sticks going in the final inning," Graham said.
This was the first time Graham and some of his Riverton players participated in the vintage tournament.
"It was kind of hard to catch at first, but we got used to it," Graham said. "All the teams in the tournament were pretty solid. We really wanted that championship game. We almost got it."
Souza was the pitching ace for the Riverton squad. Josh Oaks also saw time on the mound.
The tournament started on Saturday with the early games.
In the 12th inning, Lander's Dalton Crane hit a solo home run for the game-winner for a 9-8 win vs. Hudson.
"It was a big hit into center field," Malek said. "It just cleared the fence."
Lander blasted South Pass City 26-2 to advance into the title game.
"We had a real good game with South Pass," Malek said.
Oland saved the first game for Lander on the mound.
"We just decided to keep Brian pitching," Malek said. "He was probably the key because he shut down South Pass. They really hit well in the their first game."
South Pass City beat Riverton 10-7.
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