The Douglas Cats kept their state championship aspirations alive Monday night even as they posted their first loss and ended the first three games with a 2-1 record in Powell.
The Cats lost a battle with the Cody Cubs, who remain the last undefeated team in the tournament. The Cody squad has already earned its place in Wednesday’s championship game.
Douglas was within striking distance to defeat the Cubs the entire game, but in the end just didn’t have some of the balls bounce its way in big moments.
The team went down 3-0 in the top half of the first inning, but the batters responded well to the early deficit. Michael Bobrowski, Andres Robles, Ransom Ollie and Cam Spence recorded hits in the four-run inning to be up by one.
The Cubs regained the lead in the third and never relinquished it, holding the Cats off by just one or two runs until the seventh, when they tacked on two more to secure the win.
“It was a real battle,” Douglas coach Zack Andrews said. “It was a really intense game, maybe the most intense I’ve ever coached. There were a couple plays where if the ball goes a half a foot one way or the other, and it’s a completely different game.
“Sam (Renner) hits a ball that hits the top of the fence, but if it goes out the games tied 7-7. There was doubt throughout the whole game that anyone could have won that game. They got the breaks late, but they earned it.”
Michael Bobrowski, Jordan Bobrowski, Robles and Spence all contributed two hits to the effort.
The loss now sets up a face off with the rival Casper Crush, whose only loss of the tournament came to Cody on Sunday.
The winner of that game will then have to face the winner of the Torrington/Cody matchup. If Torrington defeats Cody, then either Casper or Douglas would need to beat them to advance to the championship against Cody. If Cody beats Torrington, then the winner of the Casper and Douglas game would have to beat Cody twice to clinch the championship, while Cody – as undefeated so far – would only need to win once to be crowned.
Douglas is 0-5 against Casper so far this season, but the games have been close. Outside of the 25-7 loss June 24 that appears to have been an anomaly, Douglas has kept each game within striking distance.
“I’m excited to play Casper, I’ve been wanting the opportunity to play them again. We will throw (Robles) at them and see what happens,” Andrews said.
Prior to the loss to Cody, Douglas was cruising through the tournament, defeating Riverton and Powell by a combined of 25-10 despite being down early to both teams.
They scored 10 runs on 14 hits in the game with Riverton, with all nine batters getting on base by either base hit or drawing a walk. Six of the nine drove in at least one run. Ollie led the way in the victory, going 3-4 in the clean up spot driving in two runs and scoring another three.
In their game against the hometown Pioneers, Douglas took advantage of wild pitching. The team scored more runs than it got hits, due in large part to 10 walks.
The Cats scored 10 runs on just five hits in the fourth inning, as the Pioneer pitchers walked two and hit two with pitches.
Douglas has performed well enough to group itself with the top teams in the state. Casper, Torrington and Cody won their respective regions in the American Legion Baseball A Classification, but only one can be the state champion.
Regardless of what happens, Andrews says he’s proud of this team.
“These guys are scrappy. This is the toughest team I’ve coached in 10 years, and they have no doubt that they have the talent to beat these teams.
“I’ve been so proud of my kids all year. We have competed and battled, and no matter what happens we have nothing to hang our heads about.”