Fleming wins Legion tournament in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Fleming wins Legion tournament in Craig

Ben Bulkeley

The Fleming Rattlers repeated as American Legion state championship with a 7-4 win on Sunday over the Strasburg Indians.

Although Moffat County's American Legion Post 62 didn't win the state tournament, manager Justin Folley said the team was still successful on its home field.

"I thought we did a good job of not only showcasing our baseball field, but our town," he said. "I think we made a good name for ourselves."

Moffat County was the host of the American Legion state tournament from July 29 to Sunday, and Folley, who helped organize the event, said he was pleased.

"I thought it all went really well," he said. "From the parents helping out at the concession stand to the kids helping get the field ready, I thought it all went pretty smoothly."

After the four-day tournament ended, the Fleming Rattlers were the 2010 American Legion state champions.

Playing Sunday at Craig Middle School, No. 2 seed Fleming was able to hold on and beat No. 4 seed Strasburg, 7-4, in nine innings in the championship game.

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Fleming's Tyler Vandenbark was named the tournament's most valuable pitcher, and said the Rattlers' road to the championship was bumpy at times.

"We had some tough games where we didn't show up," he said. "But, I thought we came out and played like we wanted to — we hit well and defense showed up.

"That got us through those close games."

Fleming won the best-of-three championship games by a score of 3-1.

Fleming's centerfielder Greg Ashley was named as the tournament's most valuable hitter.

"I feel like I could have done better, but everyone is always trying to do their best," he said. "I felt like as a team, we played really well."

Fleming started the tournament with a 13-3 win over host No. 7 Moffat County on Thursday night.

The team then upset No. 1 seed Rangely with an 8-5 win on Friday.

Strasburg and Fleming matched up for the first time on Saturday, with Strasburg winning, 2-1.

The two teams would meet twice in the championship round, with Fleming winning both.

In the clinching game, Fleming fell behind early.

"One of their kids hit a home run, and it was a blow," Vandenbark said. "But, we came back. We found a way to pull it out."

Strasburg had rolled through the tournament, winning every game until the championship.

Ashley said Fleming and Strasburg, despite both being in the Eastern Plains League, had never played until earlier in the summer.

"It was close every time we played," he said. "(Sunday), it was a pitching duel all the way through.

"We just showed up when it mattered the most."

Moffat County's American Legion Post 62 team was bounced in the second round by Fort Morgan.

In the second game, Carlos Maldonado hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, but the Bulldogs' rally wasn't enough as Fort Morgan won, 15-3.

With only two incoming juniors, the Bulldogs had one of the youngest teams in the seven-team tournament.

Maldonado, who will be entering his junior year at MCHS, said Friday that the Bulldogs are building towards the future.

"We're a really young team," he said. "I hope we get a lot of our guys back for next year."

Folley said the added experience and returning players who weren't on the American Legion roster, should give the 2011 Moffat County High School baseball team a chance to compete.

"With such a young team, we wanted our guys to get used to the tempo of this game," he said. "They still have a little ways to go, but they did a good job.

"It's tough to say now, but I think we should be able to compete in our conference next year. We'll have some time to grow."

Notes: Rangely's B.J. Hamburg was named as the tournament's Most Valuable Player after hitting .454, with two home runs and 5 RBI.

American Legion state tournament results

Thursday’s games:

Strasburg 5, Steamboat Springs 2

Fleming 13, Moffat County 3

Fort Morgan 8, Eagle Valley/Battle Mountain 4

Friday’s games:

Steamboat Springs 14, Battle Mountain/Eagle Valley

Fleming 8, Rangely 5

Rangely 14, Steamboat Springs 3

Strasburg 11, Fort Morgan 3

Fort Morgan 15, Moffat County 3

Saturday’s games:

Fort Morgan 14, Rangely 12

Strasburg 2, Fleming 1

Fleming 6, Fort Morgan 3

Sunday’s games:

Fleming 3, Strasburg 1

Fleming 7, Strasburg 4

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