The Laramie Rangers opened the Dooley Oil Classic with a 5-1 victory over the Douglas Cats at Cowboy Field Thursday night.

With the victory, Laramie has already matched its win total from the 2016 season. Their 11th straight win has the Rangers at 20-11 this season.

Laramie got a great effort on the mound, as three pitchers combined to hold Douglas to a run on five hits with 12 total strikeouts.

That caught the eye of Rangers’ manager Brandon Ruckman.

“I thought the pitchers did a great job throwing strikes; letting them put the ball in play. Wood bats a little tough, so we just need to let ‘em hit it sometimes, and that’s what they did. Clean defensive game for the most part, got some runs to back it up, so, yeah, a good game.”

Caleb Eaton got the win in relief of starter Albert Steiner, who was held to two innings and 26 pitches because he’s scheduled to pitch Friday night. Eaton allowed one run on two hits with a walk and six strikeouts. Trevor Martin closed out the game.

Laramie had a 1-0 lead, but Douglas tied it with a run on a passed ball in the fourth.

The Rangers responded with four runs in the fourth. They had five hits in the frame, including four infield hits. Matt Smith, Will Yates and Steiner all had RBI singles.

Ruckman said, “It all started with that kind of safety squeeze, although it was to the pitcher, we ended up catching a break there (catcher failed to hold onto the ball on the tag at home), and that spurred some things. They’ve had a good two-strike approach this season at the plate, and that’s good to see. Our strikeouts are way down from last year and definitely moving in a good direction.”

In their second game of the tournament Laramie will play Rock Springs Archie Hay Post 24 at 7 p.m. Friday.

Ruckman added, “They’re going to have a deeper squad I feel this year than last year, which means deeper pitching and maybe a little bit better at bats.”

It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

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