Rangely ends baseball season as consolation champs

RANGELY I “A lot of surrounding towns don’t have baseball in the summer, so myself, Gary (Denny) and Wes (Torsell) want everyone who wants to, to be able to play ball,” said Paul Fortunato, who just finished coaching his seventh season of Rio Blanco American Legion baseball.
“We want kids to have the opportunity in our surrounding area to play ball; it’s a positive thing and it channels their energy towards something good.”
The Rio Blanco American Legion team channeled its energy into a consolation championship in the sixth annual Rio Blanco American Legion’s Rangely Invite on Friday and Saturday.
The local team beat Basalt (7-6), Thomas Jefferson (8-7) and Price, Utah, (8-2) before losing to Eagle Valley (7-6). Steamboat Springs won the championship in a field that also included Vernal and Moab from Utah.
Fortunato said three of his players were named to the All-Tournament Team. Shortstop Kelton Elam, pitcher Bubba Ivers of Craig and center fielder Lucas Heinle were all honored for their play.
“Elam also pitched in relief twice and did a solid job,” Fortunato said. “Bubba did a great job, and Lucas made several big plays in the field as well as coming up with several timely hits.”
Fortunato, who is also the head high school football and baseball coach, said his team played approximately 30 games this summer and he hopes the experience is like the one he had growing up.
“It did so much for us growing up and we want these kids to have those same opportunities,” Fortunato said for the coaching staff. “We had to bring some kids in to fill the roster this year, but it was a successful summer. I would like to thank all the parents and players for their dedication and sacrifices made to our program.”
Fortunato said the coaching staff would not be able to do it without everyone’s support.
“It helps the kids of Rangely but also isn’t just about that,” Fortunato said. “It’s about helping all the kids we can.”