District Champs! | Big Horn County 12U squad defeats Lander to win first district title

They did it! The Big Horn County Little League 12U all-star squad ran the table, capturing the Wyoming District One title Saturday in Riverton, the first in county history, it is believed. The Mustangs went 3-0 at the tournament with solid pitching, strong defense and timely hitting.

Big Horn Mustangs 12U batter Owen Walker takes a mighty rip at a pitch during the Mustangs’ 1-0 win over Lander Saturday in Riverton. Walker reached on an error to bring in Matthew Newman with the lone run.
Annette Moss photo

“It feels good to know that we’re the best on this side of the State,” Mustang’s first baseman Owen Walker said about winning the title.

The Big Horn County 12U all-star squad (Lovell/Greybull) opened up tournament play on July 17 by defeating Cody 6-3. After scoreless first and second innings, both teams scored one run to keep the game tied at 1-1 after three. Late in the game, Big Horn started pulling away, scoring one run in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the sixth to lead 6-1. The Mustang defense allowed two runs in the sixth but held on to win by three. 

The Mustangs had 10 hits in the game. Walker went 3-3 with an RBI, and Hudson May went 2-3 and scored two runs. Kyle Wilson went 2-3 with an RBI and a run. Davin Crosby, Rudy Hall and Owen Edwards all went 1-2 with an RBI each. Also scoring runs in the game were William Watts (2) and Tucker Jackson.

Wilson started on the mound for the Mustangs and pitched three innings, striking out three Cody batters and allowing a hit and a run. Walker relieved Wilson and pitched 1 2/3 innings, fanning four batters and allowing a hit. Lafe Files followed Walker and pitched two-thirds of an inning, striking out one Cody batter and allowing a run. Next in line was May as he pitched one-third of an inning, allowing a run. Alex Hedges relieved May and pitched one-third of an inning, striking out one Cody batter.

Thursday, the Mustangs defeated Rock Springs 3-2 to advance to the championship game. Big Horn struck first and scored three runs in the first. Rock Springs responded in the second with two runs. The score remained the same throughout the game as the Big Horn defense held Rock Springs’ bats at bay to secure the one-run win.

Big Horn Mustangs pitcher Alex Hedges fires a pitch during the Wyoming District One Tournament Saturday in Riverton. Hedges pitched a complete game shutout, striking out six Lander batters.
Annette Moss photo

The Mustangs had seven hits in the game. Matthew Newman went 1-2 with an RBI and a run. Wilson went 2-3 with two RBIs and a run. Also scoring a run in the game was May.

Jackson started on the hill for the Mustangs and pitched 4 1/3 innings, striking out 11 Rock Springs batters and allowing a hit and two runs. File relieved Jackson and pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, fanning four batters and allowing three hits.

Title game

In Saturday’s championship game, the Mustangs met Lander for the crown. The pitchers’ duel resulted in a shutout until the third inning when Walker reached on an error to bring in Newman with the lone run. Big Horn had lights-out pitching from Alex Hedges and solid defense throughout the game to win 1-0 and their first district title for the league.

Wassmer and Jackson both went 1-2 for the Mustangs’ two hits in the game.

Hedges pitched a complete game shutout, striking out six Lander batters and allowing just two hits.

“I was trying to make it feel like a practice with no pressure,” Hedges said about his pitching. “The second inning is where I felt dialed in and things were working. The curve ball was working because I started to have good control of it.”

Members of the Major League All-Star team this year are: Rudy Hall, Owen Walker, William Watts, Matthew Newman, Alex Hedges, Owen Edwards, Tucker Jackson, Cash Wassmer, Lafe Files, Kyle Wilson, Casey Jones, Davin Crosby and Hudson May.

Nick Wilson is the manager of the 12U team this year. Chris Edwards and Jacob May are the coaches.

“The Mustangs played solid baseball last weekend in Riverton against three quality opponents,” Edwards said. “The boys made crucial plays in tight games against Rock Springs in the semifinals and Lander in the finals. Our pitchers made tough pitches in tight situations and our fielders came up with great plays behind them to save runs.

Big Horn Mustangs first baseman Owen Walker stretches for a throw during the Mustangs’ 1-0 championship win over Lander Saturday. 
Annette Moss photo

“They are all looking forward to State and competing against the best teams. It’s quite an honor for these boys to be the first group in the Majors division to qualify for a state tournament.”

“The boys played great down at the district tournament,” May said. “They were physically and mentally tough through the whole tournament. What is nice about the kids we have is that anyone of them could step up and make a play at any moment. As coaches, it makes it easy when you have confidence in all of your players. We did have some struggles at the plate but backed it up with great defense that kept us in the games and won us the district championship.

“We look forward to the opportunity to go down to Torrington and competing with the top teams in the state.”

Wednesday, the Mustangs 12U faced District Two second seed Laramie in the Wyoming State Tournament in Torrington. If Big Horn won, they face the winner of the Gillette-Lander game today (Thursday). If Big Horn lost, they face the loser of the Gillette-Lander game Thursday.

The tournament will continue through Saturday in Torrington. The winner of the state tournament will qualify for the Little League Baseball West Regionals August 5-11, in San Bernardino, Calif.

“It was cool,” player Lafe Files said. “(Winning the championship) was a good thing for our team because it’s the first in our county.”

By Sam Smith