Photo by Ray Rodriguez
The Dalles 13-15-year-old All-Stars swept through three games at the Babe Ruth State Tournament by a 37-5 margin, capped by a 13-3 title-clinching victory Saturday over East Portland. The Stars head to David Douglas High School for regional action starting on Sunday, July 22 for opening ceremonies. First-day action is at 7 p.m. Tuesday. In the celebration picture are, from left to right, starting in the back row, Deric Anthony (assistant coach), Greg Cummings (head coach), Gabe Petroff, Cal Homer, Trenton Schacher, Hunter Padberg, Wade Fields, Hunter Hough and Elliott Whitmire (assistant coach). In the front row are, from left, Keon Kiser, Ryles Buckley, Isaac Anthony, Tucker Hough (bat boy), Conner Cummings and Spencer Guscette.
Sometimes it is the smallest factors that can push teams over the top.
In Saturday’s state-title clinching win over East Portland, The Dalles’ Keon Kiser engaged in a 12-pitch at-bat that not only led to the early departure of East Portland’s starter, but opened the door to a four-run third inning in what turned into a 13-3 mercy-ruled victory Saturday in Babe Ruth baseball action at Kramer Field.
When all-star practices started, TD head coach Greg Cummings wanted his 13-to-15-year-old squad to be known as a gritty group, where they come to the ballpark and do all the little things that make baseball teams successful.
Kiser’s prolonged at-bat epitomized Cummings’ philosophy.
“We saw competitiveness in Keon’s 12-pitch at-bat tonight. The result of that was a groundout to first, but that was the turning point in the baseball game,” Cummings said. “You could just see the wind taken out of the sails of their pitcher. A 12-pitch at-bat for a kid that is 14 years old is pretty incredible.”
Motivated by Kiser’s at-bat, The Dalles jumped ahead 4-0 through three innings, but in the top of the fourth, East Portland inched to within a 4-3 deficit, but that was as close as they would get, as TD took control with an eight-run bottom of the fourth inning to go ahead, 12-3.
Needing one run to clinch in the fifth frame, Hunter Padberg rifled a one-out triple to the wall in left field, and then Conner Cummings bounced into an RBI fielder’s choice, with Padberg beating the throw home for the game-clincher.
TD starter Isaac Anthony tossed five innings of two-hit ball with seven strikeouts and three walks for the winning decision.
In TD’s three wins, they outscored opponents by a 37-5 margin and the pitchers allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits with 30 strikeouts and five walks across 17 innings.
“I was very impressed with our pitching. We have lefties with power, righties with junk and power, plus we all have good pickoff moves and a catcher that can throw guys out on the bases,” TD’s Trenton Schacher said. “The pitchers can get groundballs, popups and easy outs and a defense that will make the plays. Knowing that, it helps the pitchers, because we can just focus on our pitches, hit our spots, and if they do get a hit, you trust that your teammates will get the out.”
Cal Homer had an RBI and run scored, Schacher added an RBI single, and the lefty also opened the floodgates with a two-run triple to start the eight-run fourth inning.
Also in the fourth, Spencer Guscette added an RBI single and scored a run, Gabe Petroff followed with an RBI double to left and Homer capped the inning with an RBI grounder to score Petroff to extend TD’s lead to 12-3 entering the fifth frame.
Baking under scorching conditions, it seemed like TD got stronger as the tournament went on.
Nothing was going to stop this train.
“We are a bunch of rebels,” Padberg said. “We are out here playing in 105-degree heat and never giving up. We were smacking the ball around and making great plays and working with a lead. We knew they weren’t going to go away, so we came out and finished strong, just like we needed to.”
To get the chance to vault into the finals, TD had to defeat the same East Portland squad in an earlier contest Saturday afternoon.
In that game, Homer went 3 for 4 with three runs scored and an RBI and the right-handed pitcher allowed an unearned run on one hit with no walks and eight strikeouts in The Dalles’ 8-1 win.
TD led 5-0 through two innings and added two in the fifth and a single run in the sixth frame.
All told, the team tallied 10 hits, three doubles, and a walk, with Padberg adding a pair of doubles and an RBI in three at-bats to help support the cause.
Petroff was 1 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI, Anthony added a double in three at-bats and Schacher went 1 for 3 with two runs and an RBI.
Conner Cummings finished 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI, Guscette had a hit and Hunter Hough scored a run.
“We kept the momentum going really well in our at-bats and we kept going throughout, even after we had two outs, and didn’t give up,” Homer said. “We just kept rolling through the punches and kept going. If somebody did something bad, we just got back up and went out and executed.”
In Friday’s tournament opener, The Dalles totaled 17 hits and exploded for six runs in the third inning and tallied five in the fourth frame to defeat the Southwest Metro All-Stars by a 16-1 mercy-ruled margin.
Along with the offensive barrage, the Stars got support on the mound from Wade Fields and Conner Cummings.
The duo combined for 10 strikeouts and two hits allowed.
Fields, the starter, was perfect through the first three innings with eight strikeouts.
Fields was 3 for 4 with three runs scored and an RBI, Anthony went 2 for 2 with a double, two walks, two runs and three RBIs and Schacher posted a 2 for 2 effort with a double, two walks and three RBIs.
Homer had two hits, three runs and an RBI, Conner Cummings was 2 for 3 with two runs scored and Padberg chipped in two hits, one double, and scored a run.
Kiser was 1 for 2 with a run and an RBI, Guscette had a hit in two at-bats and Petroff tacked on a hit and a run scored.
For Cummings and his coaching staff of David Hough, Elliott Whitmire and Deric Anthony, the biggest challenge was meshing players together from Hood River, The Dalles, Ione, Arlington, Dufur and Sherman in just a handful of practices.
They have grown even closer in that span of time.
“I am super-proud of the parents and the kids,” coach Cummings said. “Like Butch (Hert) said, you have kids coming in from all over, some from two hours away. These kids are putting in the time to get to practices and games, and if it wasn’t for the commitment of all of our parents, collectively, we wouldn’t be where we are at.”
TD next heads to the regional tournament on Sunday, July 22 for opening ceremonies at David Douglas High School in Portland.
The team’s first pool play contest is slated for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24.