Photo by Ray Rodriguez
The Dalles 13-15-year-old team has enjoyed a good amount of success on the diamond in recent years with a previous deep postseason run, so the goal is to surpass those accomplishments this summer. Tournament action starts this Friday at Kramer Field. In the photo are, from left to right, starting in the back row, David Hough (assistant coach), Deric Anthony (assistant coach), Hunter Padberg, Andy Foster, Hunter Hough, Cal Homer, Greg Cummings (head coach) and Elliot Whitmire (assistant coach). In the front row are, from left, Conner Cummings, Keon Kiser, Gabe Petroff, Isaac Anthony, Tucker Hough (bat boy), Ryles Buckley and Spencer Guscette. Not Pictured: Taylor Beeks, Trenton Schacher and Wade Fields.
Two years ago, Greg Cummings fielded a group of baseball players to a runner-up finish at state.
With several of those athletes back, the expectations for the 2018 Babe Ruth All-Stars are higher.
“I hate to say world series or bust, but that’s where I am going,” Cummings said. “I am super-excited about these 14-and-15-years-olds. I think the sky is the limit with how far they can go. I think they can make it to the world series. I really do. They got it in them for sure. That is the reason why I wanted to take one more run with these kids.”
On the coaching staff with Cummings are David Hough, Deric Anthony and Elliot Whitmire, and they have been spending hours preparing this squad for this weekend’s tournament rounds at Kramer Field.
Supporting the pitching staff will be Spencer Guscette, Taylor Beeks, Conner Cummings, Keon Kiser, Gabe Petroff, Ryles Buckley, Hunter Hough, Cal Homer and Hunter Padberg.
“My biggest thing is I want us to be known as a gritty team, where we come to the ballpark and do all the little things that make baseball teams successful,” coach Cummings said. “We are going to bunt well, we are going to steal well, we are going to be fast on the base paths and do all the little things. We are going to play with heart, determination, desire and grit. Those things are super-important to me.”
Andy Foster and Wade Fields are two right-handed arms, while Isaac Anthony and Trenton Schacher give coach Cummings options as southpaws.
“I think all of us bring different things that will make us mesh well together, so we can have success,” Foster said. “We have a lot of skills with our pitching. We throw hard, we throw strikes and we pitch for flyballs, groundballs and strikeouts. We have a very good defense behind us too. If you have a good defense and solid pitching, you can hold teams down, which will make it easier to score runs.”
At the top of the lineup, Kiser feels that the Stars have speed and size, to go along with good chemistry, with many of the players who can contribute in different ways.
“Coach wants us to focus more on running the bases properly, because if we do that, we have a higher success rate of winning our games. He also wants us to keep hitting the ball and working. We have a lot of power on our team and we have guys who can make contact.”
The road to the Babe Ruth World Series will not be easy by any stretch.
Before the Stars can look too far ahead, however, the focus is on playing well at state and slowly progressing so that they are playing their best at the right time.
“A couple of years ago, I played with most of these guys, so I know that we can merge together and play some good ball,” Foster said. “I know we got second in state a couple of years ago when I played with them, so I think we will be fine coming together to accomplish our goals.”
Opening ceremonies are at 5 p.m. Thursday.
At 5:30 p.m. Friday, TD plays versus SW Metro in its first contest.
At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the Stars take on East Portland.
The top two teams play for the championship at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Playing on the same Kramer Field this weekend versus a three-team field is the 14U group that is coached by Chad Smith, Eric Quick and JR Pullen.
There is no shortage of talent in the lineup and on the mound, as Jaxon Pullen, William Shute, Elijah Roden, Carson Smith, William Hoover, Kyle Smiley, Brock LaFaver, Aayden Hendershott, Lucas Black and Jace Troutman headline this group.
With Jaxon Pullen, Carson Smith and Jace Troutman patrolling the infield, the defense is a strength of this group, especially with LaFaver, the ace right-hander, on the mound.
Last month, LaFaver tossed a four-hit, 12-strikeout gem to lead Team Pepsi to its 7-1 victory over Spooky’s Pizza.
TD’s first game is at 3 p.m. Friday versus West Linn.
Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, TD hits the field opposite Gresham.
Title action between the top two seeds is at 3 p.m.
The Dalles 13U All-Stars have a young roster in place, but they have made good headway in the weeks of preparation for the upcoming Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament.
On the all-star roster are Josh Taylor, August Harvey, Nathan Anderson, Manatu Crichton-Tunai, Diego Gonzalez, Devon Boydston, Conor Holloway, Elijah Thomas, Nathan Hedges, Evan Baldy and Braden Schwartz.
Just one year removed from winning a little league district championship, Schwartz, Hedges and Crichton-Tunai have been through a lot of the battles, so handling the pressure should not be an issue.
It will come down to competing in every inning of every game with hopes of stringing together a few wins to keep the postseason going.
Head coach Alan Anderson and his assistants, Jose Gonzalez and Brian Baldy, will work in unison to fit the pieces in place in the batting order and the field, as they slug it out against three other teams at the Pacific Northwest Tournament in West Linn.
TD has games at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, and then plays at noon Saturday.
If they have success, they advance to the championship, which is slated to run at 4 p.m. Saturday.