Rangers Journey at the State Tournament Starts Against Evanston
The final stage of the 2020 Legion baseball season begins Wednesday for the Laramie Rangers at the state tournament in Rock Springs.
Laramie takes on the Evanston Outlaws in their first-round game from the Paul J. Wataha Recreation Area at 4 p.m. KOWB (AM 1290) will have live coverage starting at 3:45 p.m.
Laramie manager Aaron Lozano said he’s pretty happy with where his squad is at entering the state tournament.
“Maybe we would have liked to get a few more wins in those last couple of weeks but we knew going into those last couple of weeks, we’d see some higher-level competition. For us, we feel that prepares us for the state tournament.”
Lozano pointed to close games with Cheyenne and Gillette down the stretch and feels if they can hang with those two, they can play with anyone at state.
The Rangers haven’t played Evanston this season. Their last meeting was in an elimination game at last year’s state tournament in Rock Springs. Laramie defeated Evanston, 4-2. The Rangers have finished off the Outlaws’ season in each of the last two years.
Laramie is 27-24 entering the state tournament. They finished with a 2-10 league record. That put the Rangers as the No. 4 seed from the East Conference.
Evanston is 27-20 on the season. They tied for first in the West Conference with a 9-3 mark and won a tie-breaker for the No. 1 seed from that league.
Lozano said the Outlaws aren’t the top seed for no reason.
“You can argue about which side of the state is better or not, but you still have to go out and play the games and win the games. Evanston’s the 1-seed and they’ve earned that. We’ve seen them the last couple of years at the state tournament, and they seem like a team that’s up and coming, a lot of familiar names on that roster, that we’ve seen the last couple of years. We know they’re experienced. We know they’ll be ready to go and having actually eliminated them the last two years, we’re anticipating that they’ll come out with a chip on their shoulder, as well.”
If the Rangers want to make a run at the state tournament, Lozano says consistent production at the plate will be key.
“I think step one for us is to get the bats going. We haven’t seen a lot of offense lately. You kind of set that tone game one of the tournament.”
He realizes they need to string hits together to score more runs and put pressure on opposing pitchers.
As for Laramie’s other key, it’s about their defense and pitching.
“We’ve seen our pitchers that throw a lot of strikes have been our most efficient pitchers... We’re hoping our pitchers can set the tone and the defense backs them up.”
Lozano also believes they have an advantage with some of the opposition they’ve seen such as Cheyenne, Gillette, Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins), and Idaho Falls.
“I think we’re a pretty dangerous four-seed for anyone to deal with. I feel like we have the ability to make a deep run.”
The first step is crucial in Laramie’s quest to continue playing on the fourth or fifth day like they have the last two years.