Photo by Ray Rodriguez
The Dalles All-Star head coach Greg Cummings, far right with No. 1, addresses his baseball team after they clinched the Babe Ruth 13-15-year-old state championship last weekend at Kramer Field. Facing a 10-team field, five in their National Division, the Stars have their eyes set on dominating action at regionals next week to vault into the Babe Ruth World Series, which is slated to run from Aug. 10-27 in Longview, Wash.
Hunter Padberg said he and his teammates are not settling on one accomplishment, they have their hearts set on much more.
Even with a state championship in the bag, the focus of The Dalles’ 13-15-year-old All-Stars is putting together another all-around slate of games at the Babe Ruth Regional Tournament at David Douglas High School in Portland.
“Our switch never turns off, so we are going to go in with the same intensity, probably even more at regionals,” Padberg said. “We are going to show the same fight, the same intensity, the same bat power, the same pitching, everything. We are coming.”
Last weekend in TD’s three state 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.
After not dressing down for state, Andy Foster and Taylor Beeks are set to re-join that group, giving head coach Greg Cummings even more pitching firepower to throw at the opposition.
“I think we have the best lineup when we play games. We have power, speed and guys that can do a lot of things well,” Padberg said. “But, our pitching is what makes us dangerous. We have depth there and guys that can really embarrass other hitters. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do at the regional tournament.”
On the roster along with Padberg and Schacher are Keon Kiser, Ryles Buckley, Isaac Anthony, Gabe Petroff, Cal Homer, Wade Fields, Hunter Hough, Spencer Guscette and Conner Cummings.
“I am pretty confident in our chances,” Homer said. “If we play as a team, we should be able to do pretty good at regionals. We have to keep working as a team and enhance what we do well and make sure we cut down on our mistakes. We had way too many errors at state.”
As impressive as Fields, Anthony, Conner Cummings are Homer were during state action, coach Cummings maintains his emphasis on offensive execution, especially with the level of pitching expected to take a pronounced uptick at regionals.
“At state, we saw what we can do when we have all nine in the batter’s box being aggressive. We saw it time and time again,” coach Cummings said. “It is about having the mindset of going up there and not losing. You got to go up there ready to hit and ready to compete in every single at-bat.”
The Dalles is in the National Division with Wyoming, South Oregon, Idaho and East Portland (last week’s state runner-up).
On the other side, the American Division, are North and South Washington, Montana, Portland and Alberta, Canada.
Each team gets four pool play games with the top-2 in each division advancing to the semifinals on Saturday, July 28, where games are played at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The semifinal winners move on to the championship at 5 p.m.
The Dalles’ first pool play contest is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24 versus South Oregon.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, TD hits the field against East Portland, and then at 4 p.m. Thursday, they take on Idaho, before wrapping up with a contest with Wyoming at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We got a great group of guys here,” Padberg said. “I could tell from our first day of practice that everyone was wanting to go harder than they ever have and were ready to take the next step and go as far as we possibly can. We are not looking too far ahead though. We will take it one pitch at a time, one game at a time and we will see what happens from there.”
Before state, on July 9, TD lost a scrimmage game in Kelso, Wash. by an 11-10 margin, so the lesson learned from that defeat appeared to have shaken the cobwebs and given the team some new life.
Schacher feels the team’s momentum is on an upward swing.
“So far, our pitching, our hitting and fielding have been amazing,” Schacher said. “We have 10-runned multiple teams, we have won some close games, come back from being down eight, nine runs, and after that, we came back for the win. We are never out of any game. We know what we are capable of and we want to show it at regionals. We have had our ups and downs, but we are all still out here competing.”