Laramie Rangers Battle Through Inconsistency For Top Four Finish
The 2019 American Legion baseball season for the Laramie Rangers can be described as a bit of a different roller coaster ride.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, there were far more losses than victories and some big lulls in their ride, but it concluded with some positives.
Manager Aaron Lozano said their performance at the state tournament bodes well for the future.
“We know that we’ve got a really young program right now. Some of these guys have been forced to play double-A baseball, maybe a little bit before they were ready, and they made huge strides, and that showed at this tournament.”
Lozano explained, “It’s always hard to say good-bye to the seniors (6), but as soon as the talk (on the field) was over, the underclassmen were scheming (for next year). Caleb Eaton said it really well. He said this year we were young and inexperienced. We’re still going to be young next year, but we’re going to have the experience, and that’s gonna carry us a long way. We’re going to be a different team next year.”
Lozano thanked the seniors for showing the way. The Rangers lose Michael Schutterle, Ramon Gomez, Jaykob Ahrenholtz, Alex Flores, Juddson Church, and Lucas Roberts.
Lozano added, “The strides that you’ll see next year, that I anticipate we’ll see in the win-loss record and in the quality of play, will also be a testament to the time and effort that the seniors put into this program.”
He went on to say that Jaykob, Michael, and Ramon have been anchors for him as a first-year head coach in this program.
Laramie opened the 2019 season back in mid-April. Through the middle of May, their record was 1-11. Manager Aaron Lozano called it their “preseason.”
The calendar changed to June, and the ball club saw more success. The Rangers posted a record just over .500 at 12-11.
As Laramie moved into the final month of the season, the caliber of competition increased, but so did the team’s record in the loss column. The Rangers lost their final 16 games of the regular season. There were tough defeats in the bottom of the seventh on the road, to rallies that fell short, to games where they were dominated by the opposition.
Then came a fresh start July 26 at the Wyoming American Legion Baseball ‘AA’ State Tournament. Laramie took full advantage, as they beat the Jackson Giants in the first round for a second consecutive year. The final was 6-0. The Rangers got great pitching, timely hitting, and took advantage of mistakes by their opponent.
They got beat in their second game at state by Gillette, 19-5, but then regrouped and avoided elimination with a 4-2 victory over Evanston. The Rangers knocked the Outlaws out of the state tournament for a second straight year. Laramie then fell to eventual state champion Casper, 17-7, in five innings in their final game of the state tournament.
Even despite the losses piling up, the Rangers managed to be one of the last four teams at the ‘AA’ State Tournament for a second straight year.
Lozano said I’ve talked about this a couple of times, “This freshman class has never really got to play at the level that they’re supposed to play at. They’ve always had to play up. Last year, all playing ‘B’ ball when they were all eligible to play ‘C’ ball, and then they make a jump, some of them from ‘C’ to ‘AA,’ some of them from ‘B’ to ‘AA.’ The fact that they were put in that position, where they had to play up, they were up for it. They were the right guys to ask to do that. They’ve competed and really shown the future is bright.”
Laramie returns 11 of the 16 players that were on the state tournament roster for 2020. That includes the top three hitters among everyday players, average-wise, from this season, in Caleb Eaton, Tyler Oppie, and Aidan Morris.