by nathan oster
The Greybull Geckos won the game they needed to win and are one of three teams from their district — Powell and Cody being the others — that will be playing in this week’s State Babe Ruth Tournament in Gillette.
“We had a great tournament,” Coach Joe Forcella said of his Geckos, who won the game they needed to win, 20-8 over the Cowley, before dropping an extra-inning, 4-3 heartbreaker to Cody and an 18-8 decision to Powell at their district tournament in Powell. “We opened with Cowley and started off slow, but once we found our bats, we pulled away with ease.”
Justin Bacus got the win, surrendering just four runs in his 2 1/3 innings of work. Kade Osborne followed with 4 1/3 strong innings of his own in relief, in which he gave up just three runs, before Zach Zeller came in to get the final out.
Dawson Forcella had three singles, Bacus had a double and three runs batted in, and the trio of Calder Forcella, Treston Tracy and Osborne each had two hits and two runs batted in to propel the Geckos to the win.
“I was very happy with our young players,” Forcella said. “They raised their level of play and hit the ball well.”
The game of the tournament may well have been the Cody-Greybull showdown on Friday morning. The Geckos sent one of their aces, Calder Forcella, to the hill. He didn’t disappoint, allowing just three runs on nine hits in seven strong innings.
In spite of Forcella’s efforts, however, the Geckos found themselves down by two runs going into the top of the sixth inning. Osborne led off with a single. Zeller followed with a line-drive double to center. On the relay, Osborne came in to score, making it 3-2. Zeller later scored on a passed ball, knotting the game at 3-3.
“You could feel the momentum shift our way,” Forcella said of the sixth-inning rally.
The Geckos held Cody scoreless in the bottom of the frame, then went to work in the top of the seventh. With two outs, they had the bases loaded and Calder Forcella was coming up. With the game on the line, Forcella made solid contact, hitting a line drive up the middle that was snared by the Cody pitcher for the out.
“He made a clutch play out of pure self defense,” said Forcella. “Calder hit a line drive that an inch one way or the other would have driven in two runs; instead the wind left our sail. Going into the extra innings, each team used up their pitchers and had to come with someone new.
“We battled and couldn’t get runners in scoring position. Cody managed to get the runners where they needed and scored on a deep fly (in the bottom of the eighth) to end the game. It took a lot out of us.”
Greybull finished with seven hits, with Zeller and Riley Hill each collecting two. Hill was credited with the team’s only run batted in.
The Geckos finished up Saturday morning with Powell, a team that had upset Cody. After playing three innings of “good ball,” the wheels fell off for the Geckos as Powell plated four runs in the fourth and 10 more in the fifth to cruise to the win.
“The error-fest hit us,” Forcella said. “We had 13 errors from all the starters. We know we can beat Cody and Powell. Hopefully, we will have another chance to meet them at the state tournament.”
Riley Hill, Justin Bacus, Skylar Thomas, Zeller and Osborne handled the pitching chores.
Offensively, the Geckos had just five hits, with Calder Forcella and Zeller each collecting two.
With the back-to-back losses, the Geckos saw their record fall to 14-7.