Local baseball team took first place in the second annual event, going 4-0 during the weekend’s games
ATASCADERO — On the weekend of July 30 and 31, the Atascadero Oaks baseball team from competed in the 2nd Annual Friends of Ryan Teixeira (FORT) Baseball Classic. The tournament took place after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 at the Pismo Beach Sports Complex, and all funds raised by the tournament went directly to the FORT Foundation, which put the Baseball Classic on.
“We had the opportunity to play the game we love (and also Ryan loved) while also raising funds for a worthy cause,” said Oaks coach Erik Wanner.
Teixeira’s friends created the FORT Foundation after the San Luis Obispo County baseball player lost his battle with cancer in 2017. The foundation’s mission is to provide “Victory Trips” for young adults battling life-threatening diseases, on top of supporting youths in the FFA and more.
“The Friends Of Ryan Teixeira Tournament is one we circled on the calendar early in our summer ball plans,” added Wanner. “I got to know Ryan a tiny bit when my son, Evan, was a tee-baller, and Ryan was a teenage umpire when we first moved to the Central Coast. We also knew his later story and how much he loved baseball and youth sports. So having the opportunity to play in a tournament in his honor, run by his incredibly giving foundation, was a no-brainer.”
The Oaks played in the 14U division of the FORT Baseball Classic against other local baseball leagues and organizations. The tournament went the Oaks’ way, as they went 4-0 and outscored their opponents 29-5. The team got outstanding performances from Tournament MVP Zach Savino and Championship Game MVP pitcher Damon Mitchell.
“Other standout plays came from Ulysses Kaul, Will Capaci, Reid Gearhart, and Steven Ernst,” Wanner said. “Our defense has been our star all summer, and it continued into the tournament, culminating with a perfect zero-error performance in the championship game. Defensive standout play came from Evan Wanner, George Bowman, Chuck Dahlen, Weston Witt, and Zach Savino.”
Wanner and fellow coach Jeremy Gearhart created a credo for the Oaks team this summer, which goes, “Have a purpose, have a plan, have fun.” The boys put that ideology into play at the FORT tournament.
“Leading up to the tournament, our practices were extremely crispy and constructive,” Wanner said. “We impressed upon the boys the importance of the tournament and how Ryan approached playing; always giving your best and also how fortunate we all are to have this opportunity.”
The 14-player Oaks includes: Garrett Alldredge, Evan Wanner, Reid Gearhart, Ulysses Kaul, Weston Witt, Miguel Zepeda, Zach Savino, Chuck Dahlen, George Bowman, Steven Ernst, Damon Mitchell, Will Capaci, Isaiah Rodriguez, and Wyatt Litten.
“It has been highly rewarding to see the boys’ hard work translate into the successes they have had,” Wanner said. “Coach Jeremy and I feel hard work is always rewarded, and we hope this is a message they can carry with them long into their playing careers and adult lives.”
To find out more about the Friends of Ryan Teixeira Foundation, go to fort17.org/.