by nathan oster
“We made memories that are life long.”
So began Joe Forcella, talking about his Babe Ruth team’s weekend trip to Rawlins, where it won two of four games to lay claim to the third-place trophy. With a 21-5 drubbing of Cowley factored in, the team’s record stands at 11-5.
The Geckos “stunned” Rangley, Colo., 15-0, in its opener Saturday.
Justin Bacus hurled a gem, limiting Rangley to just four hits while fanning five in five innings of work. “Justin pitched a perfect game, in my opinion,” Forcella said, “because he trusted his teammates to come up with big plays (behind him).
“Our defense was unbelievable.”
Greybull broke the game open with a seven-run second inning before adding three more in the third and four in the fifth. For the game, the Geckos finished with 16 hits. Fabian Davila and Dawson Forcella (two doubles) each had three hits to lead the way.
Calder Forcella (triple), Zack Zeller and Cade Dooley each contributed two hits to the cause.
The Geckos faced Rawlins in their second game of the tournament and had the hosts on the ropes, leading 7-1 going into the bottom of the fourth, before a seven-run flurry sealed their fate. Rawlins got to one of Greybull’s top pitcher, Calder Forcella. The final was 8-7 — and no one felt worse about it than the manager.
“I’ll take the credit for the loss,” Forcella said. “I felt we needed a change on the mound, but the defense was playing so well I thought we could play through it.”
Forcella called it “a great baseball game,” noting that his team hit the ball well and played great defense. “Our younger players grew and our leaders became stronger; they lifted each other up when they needed it,” he said. “I was really proud of Cade Dooley, Dawson Forcella, and Riley Hill for being 13 and playing like a 15 year olds. Dooley made some unbelievable catches, while Hill found his bat. Dawson did an outstanding job catching.”
Osborne had three hits, scored twice and knocked in a run. Hill had two hits and two runs batted in. Calder Forcella also had three hits for Greybull.
Forcella went the distance on the mound, giving up 11 hits but walking only one in five innings.
The Geckos got back on the winning track in their next game, beating Craig, Colo., 12-8 to advance to the semifinal round. Forcella said difference was his team’s ability to maintain its composure — noting that a big swing in momentum occurred when Craig’s coach was thrown out of the game.
Osborne, who gave up two hits and four runs in three innings of work, picked up the win, while Zeller earned the save for twirling three strong innings of his own, in which he surrendered four hits and four runs.
Zeller had two hits and three RBIs, Calder Forcella had three hits and two RBIs and Osborne had three hits and one RBI.
“We finally realized we have a good team and can play with anyone,” Forcella said. “I was really proud of Jake Gifford for stepping his game up on baserunning. He pinch-ran several times and scored 90 percent of the time. He was into the game.”
The win sent Greybull into the semifinals and a date with Cody, which “typically blows teams out,” Forcella said. “But we stayed right with them.” By the end of the game, Cody had earned a 7-4 win — but the Greybull team had earned the respect of their rivals from Park County.
Cody did all of its damage against Zeller, plating seven runs in the first two innings.
Forcella slammed the door after that, working four scoreless innings in which Cody mustered just two hits and giving the Greybull offense time to recover. That, it did, pushing across one in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to close to within 7-4.
“We plugged along but playing back-to-back games took its toll on us,” Forcella said. “Calder and Dawson as a tandem pitching and catching really shook up their batting. When they did get a big hit, our defense was right there. Again Dooley, Osborn, and Fabian Davila didn’t drop a ball that was catchable. We fought hard and didn’t give up, and Cody knows that they can’t overlook us like they have in the past.”
Davila, Zeller and Dawson Forcella had Greybull’s only hits in the game.
With the third-place trophy came some extra recognition for one Gecko. Dawson Forcella, who caught all four games, was named the most valuable defensive player of the tournament by the umpires. “He earned it,” said his father. “There were times he beat the runner to first coming out of the catcher’s stance for a backup.
“But I will be the first to tell you that our entire team played like champions.”
Before heading to Rawlins, the Geckos turned the lights out on the Cowley A’s, trouncing their rivals from the north 21-5 Thursday night in their home finale. A 12-run third inning sent the Geckos to the win.
Zeller was the starter and winner on the mound and nine different Geckos recorded hits in the game, with Fabian Davila leading the way with four and Zeller three.
The Geckos will face Cowley at 6 p.m. today (Thursday, July 5) in Cowley.