Laramie Rangers Struggle in Firecracker Tournament in Cheyenne
You might not think it from this photo, but it was a rough weekend for the Laramie Rangers at the 2021 Cheyenne Firecracker Invitational baseball tournament.
Coming off the high of a sweep of Gillette in two conference games last Wednesday, 1-0 and 11-0, the Rangers struggled in their five games over the holiday weekend.
Laramie (32-15) went 1-4 in their five pool play games and did not advance to Sunday’s four-team, single-elimination bracket.
Manager Aaron Lozano said the best part was seeing where the squad needs improvement.
“It shows us a lot more of things that we need to work on that maybe we hadn’t seen or things that maybe were going on, but we’re coming out on top in games, and so maybe we don’t think about it as much. We’ve got a lot we can work on.”
A year ago, Laramie played in the championship game of this same tournament and then struggled the rest of the season.
Lozano added, “Being a baseball guy and being superstitious, we played really well in this tournament last year, played awful at (the) state (tournament), so we’re hoping to flip that around.”
The Rangers opened the tournament with a 14-1 loss to the Fort Collins GOJO’s on Thursday, July 1. It was 4-0 in the third inning when Laramie left the bases loaded. Fort Collins scored four runs in the fourth inning for an 8-0 lead. They added one in the fifth and five in the sixth. The Rangers scored on an RBI single by Ben Malone in the sixth.
Last Friday, Laramie played two pool play games. They lost to the NoCo Roughnecks from Colorado, 16-9, and the Rocky Mountain Oysters from Grand Junction, CO, 15-4.
The Rangers led 5-2 early in the game but surrendered that lead in the fourth inning. They trailed 7-6 entering the seventh inning but allowed 9 runs to the Roughnecks. Garrett Dodd had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and drove in three.
Against the Oysters, back-to-back six-run innings in the third and fourth proved to be the difference. Laramie was limited to five hits. Dodd had a two-run double in the fifth.
On Saturday, it was another doubleheader for the Rangers. They earned their first and only win of the weekend with an 11-8 victory over the Cheyenne Hawks in eight innings. Laramie jumped on the Hawks with four runs in the first inning. They led 8-2 going into the bottom of the seventh but allowed six runs to Cheyenne. That forced extra innings. The Rangers responded with three in the eighth for the victory. Diego Medina, Ben Malone, and Aidan Morris had RBI base hits in that frame. Griffin Webb got the win in relief.
Laramie looked like they may win a second straight game against the Jefferson Academy Jaguars. They led 6-2 and 7-5. The Jaguars rallied with four runs on four hits and three Rangers errors in the sixth for the win. Laramie scored once in the seventh but left runners on base at second and third, as a strikeout ended the game. The final was 9-8 in favor of Jefferson Academy.
Lozano said the whole weekend came down to pitching and defensive woes over the five games.
“I think it shows that we’ve got some guys that are close, as far as pitching, and sort of stepping up and joining (Brandon) Chavez and (Ryan) Chamberlain as sort of a triumvirate, or three-headed monster, or whatever you want to call ‘em. (I) was really pleased to see what Billy (Jenkin) and Aidan (Morris) brought this weekend (pitching-wise), and some other guys that we’ve seen have some success in relief, not have as much success in a starting role. That’s good for us to see as well because then we can sort of hone in on where they’re finding success.”
The Rangers don’t play again until Friday.
Lozano stated, “We’re in a spot where a little bit of rest for these guys, I think, is well-deserved. It’s hard-earned, and it’s welcome.”
The Rangers will play in the Dickinson Roughriders tournament in Dickinson, ND on Friday through Sunday. They have pool play games on Friday and Saturday against Laurel (MT), Sturgis (SD), and the host team, Dickinson, before a match-up game versus a team from the other pool on Sunday.