Cheyenne Sixers Is First Wyoming Team Ever To Make American Legion World Series

The Cheyenne Sixers have dominated Wyoming American Legion baseball for more than two decades and now they've taken it a step further. With Sunday's win, they became the first Wyoming team ever to go to the American Legion World Series.

JN
Jake Nichols

August 11, 20237 min read

The Cheyenne Sixers dogpile on the mound after the final out that sent them to the 2023 American Legion World Series, the first Wyoming team ever to make the ALWS.
The Cheyenne Sixers dogpile on the mound after the final out that sent them to the 2023 American Legion World Series, the first Wyoming team ever to make the ALWS. (Courtesy WyoPreps)

History was already made before the first pitch.

With perennial state champs Cheyenne Sixers squaring off against the plucky Gillette Roughriders, no matter who won the Northwest Regional tournament championship, a Wyoming baseball team would be headed to the American Legion World Series (ALWS). That’s never happened.

With the win Sunday, the Sixers punched their ticket to Shelby, North Carolina, where they hope to continue their history-making 2023 run by bringing home a national title.

“It feels great to be here. It’s been a long time coming,” Sixers manager Ty Lain said. “To have it be an all-Wyoming final is extra special. It was a great feeling going into the game knowing history was being made.”

Gillette head coach Nate Perleberg “is a Hall of Famer, and the way his team played all week, all season, they are a class act and they grinded it out,” he said. “They play the game the right way and they beat a lot of good teams.”

Cheyenne did hang on to beat Gillette 7-4 in the Regional title game to finish the season 65-15. An early loss in the tournament to Pocatello, Idaho, meant the Sixers had to do it the hard way, but the team, stacked with eight seniors to provide veteran leadership, battled back to win the tournament.

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Iron Sharpens Iron

As the game ended, players threw their gloves in the air and dogpiled at the mound. It was the program’s biggest win to date — and that’s saying something. All the Sixers do is win. Since 2000, there have been only three seasons when Post 6 did not win a state title.

Somehow, though, the Sixers had never been able to best every team in the Northwest Region, which includes ballclubs from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. To have two teams from Wyoming battling it out in Regionals on Sunday is a testament to how much better baseball has gotten in Wyoming.

“The bar has been rising. The level of baseball getting better across the whole state. All eight AA teams are extremely well-coached with guys like [Jackson Giants head coach Jason] Huggins and [Laramie Rangers head coach Aaron] Lozano, who have been with their programs for a long time,” Lain said. “It’s a statement about where Wyoming baseball is right now.

“And our region, in my opinion, is the toughest tournament to win. You make it out of here and you’ve achieved something.”

Legion Legacy

Coach Lain is always quick to point out one win, one winning season, is all part of the process of building a culture, one that began decades ago under the direction of his father Tagg, who led the Sixers to 14 state titles during his 22 years at the helm.

By the time Tagg Lain retired after the 2015 season, he had sent numerous kids on to play college baseball and one, Brandon Nimmo, who was drafted into the major leagues right out of Legion baseball in 2011. At the age of 18, Nimmo signed a $2.1 million contract with the New York Mets, a team he still plays for.

Ty Lain has continued to build on the dynasty that is Cheyenne Sixer baseball. Going into every new season, Post 6 is the team to beat, the team that sets the standard of excellence.

“It takes a full community effort. It helps to have that community support and be able to develop players from age 8 so that when they get here they already have an understanding of the expectations, what will be demanded of them and how they need to handle themselves,” Lain said. “And we’re at the point now where we are into the second generation of players.

“Former Sixer players (are) now sending their kids through the program, so it is feeding itself at this point.”

The 2023 Northwest Region American Legion champion Cheyenne Sixers.
The 2023 Northwest Region American Legion champion Cheyenne Sixers. (Cheyenne Sixers via Facebook)

Unfinished Business

With all the success, the Sixers have never gotten over the hump and into the ALWS. That all changed Sunday, but the way was paved last season with a heartbreaking walk-off 6-5 loss to Idaho Falls Post 56.

“When that game ended we had about 10 seniors playing their last week of baseball games. It was devastating for them to be that close. We just tried to console them after that,” Lain said. “But for the eight seniors we have this year that remember the bitter feeling, well, they were highly motivated.”

To a man, Sixer players agreed that the ending of the 2022 season didn’t sit well with them.

“That killed us last year,” star third basemen Mason Tafoya said. “We know what it is like being on both sides now.”

Sixer catcher Kaden Anderson, who was voted MVP of the regional tournament, also felt the loss last year was a prime motivator.

Lain said Anderson “might be the best player to ever come out of the program” after winning six state titles in his six years as a Sixer.

“That game last year,” Anderson said, shaking his head remembering it. “I think we had a vengeance. We wanted to prove we could go to the next level.”

Ace pitcher Bradley Feezer is yet another player feeling the pressure to achieve after coming so close last year and aging out after this season.

“Last year we got so close. I've been in this program for five years and this caps off a senior season to remember,” he said. “I’m glad we got it done, making history here.”

Coach Lain told the team back in spring training they had the makings to do more than just notch another state title and show up in regionals.

“That experience last year played a factor this year,” Lain admitted. “We showed a lot of maturity. We stayed locked in between games and had to battle back after an early loss in the tournament.”

World Series Underway

The dream is far from over.

 “The goal is not to get to the World Series, it is to win the national championship,” Lain said. “We are four wins away from that.”

The Cheyenne team landed in Shelby, North Carolina, at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. By Thursday afternoon, they had to be ready to face League City, Texas, at Veterans Field in Keeter Stadium.

“We’ve played six or seven teams over the past three years that have gone to the ALWS. Maybe we’ve never been here on this field facing these teams, but we have played at this level. We know we belong here and can play with these guys,” Lain said.

The first game of the round robin tournament that is American Legion World Series play began Thursday. The Sixers fell to League City Texas by a score of 4-0.

League City’s Jacob Cyr went all the way for the win without allowing a Cheyenne hit. It was just the third no-hitter in ALWS history. Colter McAnelly took the loss for the Sixers.

The loss makes Friday’s game against Ellsworth, Maine, crucial. Cheyenne will likely send Feezer to the hill. A third game against the defending national champions Troy, Alabama, looms Saturday.

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JN

Jake Nichols

Features Reporter