GILLETTE, Wyo. — Following Thursday’s disappointing setback to the Gillette Roughriders to start the 34th annual Hladky Memorial Tournament, the WESTCO Zephyrs senior legion baseball team bounced back in fine fashion with a 9-2 victory over Rock Springs on Friday evening in Gillette, Wyoming.
The win improved WESTCO to 1-1 in pool play action of the eight-team tournament. The Zephyrs (19-13) will face the Greeley Gojos in their final pool play game on Saturday at 8 a.m. A spot in the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night will be on the line for the winner. The loser will play in the consolation round at 1 p.m.
WESTCO head coach Jeremiah Luber said he was pleased with his team’s rebound performance, which was aided by Tate Carson on the mound.
“We really cleaned things up defensively and that was a big part of it,” Luber said. “Tate was a little wild early, but settled in and threw strikes. We caught the ball behind him and that allowed our offense to get going.”
Carson, who improved his pitching record to 5-1, allowed a pair of earned runs on just five hits and struck out seven in the complete-game effort. He needed just 90 pitches to get through all seven innings.
The WESTCO offense gave Carson plenty of support to work with as the Zephyrs totaled 15 hits. Every hitter to bat in the lineup recorded at least one hit.
Harold Baez led the way at the plate by going 3-for-4 with a double, two runs batted in and two runs scored. Jack Jones, Paul Panduro, Jace Heimerman, and Jerrett Richter all followed with two hits each. Richter and Hunter McCollum both drove in a pair of runs. Jerald Ybarra added a double and Creighton Dike plated two runs.
Trailing 2-1 after two innings, the Zephyrs went in front for good by scoring a pair of runs in the third. WESTCO tacked on four more runs in the fourth and added two more insurance runs in the sixth.
This is just the second year the Zephyrs have competed in the Hladky Memorial Tournament. Luber said it’s a welcome break from seeing the usual opponents on the schedule.
“The guys were real excited to get away for a little bit and play some teams we normally don’t see,” he said. “There is some real quality competition here with Gillette and the Greeley Gojos. Both of those teams are equally as good, if not maybe on some days, a little better than Hastings and Kearney. It’s a really good challenge for us.”
Against Greeley on Saturday, Baez is scheduled to get the start on the mound for WESTCO. Baez, a hard-throwing righthander, is 4-2 on the season with an earned run average of 1.79.
“He’s thrown well the last two starts against real quality teams,” Luber said of Baez. “We’re looking forward to another effort like that tomorrow to give us a chance.”
Rock Springs 020 000 0 — 2 5 1
Zephyrs (19-13) 012 402 x — 9 15 1
WP — Tate Carson. LP — Stevenson.
2B — Zephyrs (Harold Baez, Jerald Ybarra). Rock Springs (Bobby Sains).