With postseason play just over a week away, the WESTCO Zephyrs continued to position themselves nicely for a run at a third straight berth in the state tournament by sweeping the Laramie Rangers in a senior legion baseball doubleheader on Tuesday evening at Cleveland Field in Scottsbluff.
Behind another dominating pitching performance from Eric Moreno, the Zephyrs claimed a 5-0 win in game win. In the second game, Ty Benson gave WESTCO another solid start on the mound as the Zephyrs posted an 11-2 win.
The victories extended the Zephyrs’ winning streak to nine in a row and improved their overall record to 30-11 on the season.
“It was a good sweep for us because they played us pretty tough in Laramie a week ago,” Zephyrs coach Mark Moran said. “Winning both of these games tonight was good for us.”
Moreno, who’s been tough on opposing lineups all season long, was his usual overpowering self in Tuesday’s opener. The Lamar Community College recruit allowed just one hit and struck out 13 to improve his season record to 9-1.
“Eric was really good in game one,” Moran said. “He had one base runner the whole game.”
Moreno has won his last seven starts in a row. Three of his last four wins have been shutouts. The hard-throwing right-hander, who is the Zephyrs’ all-time leader in career wins and strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a run in 14 1/3 consecutive innings.
With the game scoreless through two innings, the Zephyrs broke on top with three runs in the bottom of the third. WESTCO manufactured its runs with a fielder’s choice, a hit batsman and a single by Robbie Cantril.
Ty Wilson doubled home Austin Murphy in the fifth. Tharyn Curtis also finished with a double.
WESTCO out-hit Laramie, 7-1. Seven different Zephyrs had a hit. Jackson Hinze finished with a stolen base.
In game two, the Zephyrs plated four runs in both the third and fourth innings to break open a tight contest. Dylon Busskohl’s triple highlighted the third, while the Zephyrs took advantage of their patience at the plate in the fourth to score three times on bases-loaded walks.
Ty Dunkel and Beau Lofink both had run-scoring singles in the first inning.
Curtis, Moreno and Rojelio Gurrola all finished the game with two hits each. Moreno was 2-for-2 with three runs scored. Curtis, Murphy and Busskohl all scored two runs. Curtis and Moreno both doubled.
Benson moved his season record on the mound to 4-0 with the win. He allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out six in five innings of work. Wilson struck out four in pitching the final two innings.
“In game two, Benson pitched very well through five and then Wilson came in and pitched well in relief,” Moran said. “Our pitchers are really getting it done right now.”
During their current nine-game win streak, the Zephyrs’ pitching staff has given up a total of just 10 runs. Four wins have been by shutout.
“The biggest key for them is they’re throwing strikes,” Moran said of his pitchers. “They’re not hurting themselves and they’re making it tough on the other team to score. I can’t say enough about these guys.”
The Zephyrs’ success over the last month resulted in WESTCO receiving the No. 1 seed for next week’s Class A, Area 7 Tournament. The double-elimination tournament will be contested July 19-21 at Cleveland Field. Kearney is seeded second, North Platte is third and Hastings is fourth.
Moran said he’s happy to see his squad playing so well at such an important point in the season.
“It’s great we’re doing this at this time of year,” Moran said. “It’s a credit to our guys because they’ve really improved throughout the season. They’re getting better at executing the little things that we’re trying to do in each game.”
The Zephyrs will wrap up their regular-season schedule in Denver this weekend. WESTCO will play D’Evelyn in a doubleheader on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. and will then take on Mullen in a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon.
Laramie ...... 000 000 0 — 0 1 3
Zephyrs ..... 003 011 x — 5 7 0
WP — Eric Moreno (9-1). LP — Drew Burman.
2B — Tharyn Curtis, Ty Wilson.
Laramie ........................... 100 100 0 — 2 4 0
Zephyrs (30-11) ............. 204 401 x — 11 10 2
WP — Ty Benson (4-0). LP — Abel Casas.
3B — Dylon Busskohl. 2B — Tharyn Curtis, Eric Moreno, Tyler Loose, Drew Burman.