Range Riders Home Season Finale Draws Record Crowd

Whether Glacier makes the postseason will be determined in final series of the regular season

By Micah Drew
Closing game of the Glacier Range Riders’ season at Glacier Bank Park in Kalispell on Sept. 6, 2023. Micah Drew | Flathead Beacon

As the sun set on Sept. 6, painting the sky above the Flathead Valley in brilliant streaks of orange and pink, a record number of fans packed into Glacier Bank Park to cheer on the Glacier Range Riders in the final home game of the regular season.

The Range Riders put on a show for the crowd of 3,079. From a lopsided first inning that saw the Idaho Falls Chukars bat in eight runs to Glacier’s zero, the Range Riders got on the board in the bottom of the fifth with runs by Mason Dinesen and Ben Huber to begin a comeback.

At the bottom of the eighth, Matt Clayton capped the night with a home run, bringing Gabe Howell and Dean Miller across the plate, but the Range Riders were unable to claw all the way back, falling 9-6 to the Chukars.

Despite the home loss, the Range Riders have a lot to cheer about in just its second season of playing ball.

Founded in 2021, the Range Riders joined the MLB-affiliated Pioneer Baseball League (PBL) as its 10th member for the 2022 season. The PBL has teams in four states and the Range Riders match up against the Missoula Paddleheads, the Billings Mustangs and the Great Falls Voyagers as its in-state rivals. There are also teams in Boise (Hawks,) Idaho Falls (Chukars,) Ogden, Utah (Raptors), Grand Junction, Colo. (Rockies) and Windsor, Colo., (Owlz).

In the inaugural season for the Flathead Valley team, the Range Riders won just 39 of its 95 games (.411), sitting at the bottom of the North Division standings, but ahead of three South Division teams in the league.  

Closing game of the Glacier Range Riders’ season at Glacier Bank Park in Kalispell on Sept. 6, 2023. Micah Drew | Flathead Beacon

With just one season under their belt, however, the Range Riders have made massive strides in 2023. Currently 53-41, Glacier sits second in the North Division and second overall in the PBL, behind the Missoula Paddleheads, who they face in a three-game series in Missoula to cap off the regular season, which concludes Saturday. The team is also in the running for a postseason berth.

The Pioneer Baseball League playoff structure pits the first-half season division winners against the second-half season division winners in a three-game series, followed by a three-game title series between the division champions.

The Missoula Paddleheads won the North Division first half with a 35-13 record over the Range Riders, who went 31-13, and will open postseason play on the road Monday against either the Billings Mustangs or the Range Riders. Glacier’s entrance to the playoffs depends on who wins the North Division second half — if Billings takes the second-half title outright, they’ll host the Paddleheads on Monday. However, if the Paddleheads capture the second-half title, the Range Riders will host a playoff game in the Flathead Valley.

After Thursday night’s action, Billings trailed Missoula in the standings by a half game and are finishing the season on the road against the Northern Colorado Owlz. Meanwhile, Missoula hosts Glacier for two more games after winning 8-6 on Thursday.

Regardless of the outcome, the massive strides made by the Range Riders in just two seasons cannot be overstated. The team’s mission statement states: “They will be champions,” which may ring true sooner than anyone thought.

To see the latest box scores and videos of each game, visit www.gorangeriders.com/sports/bsb/2023/schedule.

A stadium mural seen at the closing game of the Glacier Range Riders’ season at Glacier Bank Park in Kalispell on Sept. 6, 2023. Micah Drew | Flathead Beacon