Wilson Post 20 DeMarini Dirtbags are headed to state

DALLAS - The Wilson Post 20 DeMarini Dirtbags are riding high after three straight victories against familiar opponents, but now they head into the unknown against the seven other best teams in the state at the American Legion AAA State Baseball Tournament.It has been a long season for many of the Dirtbags players, who, between spring and summer ball, have been playing since early March."I think we struggled at times during the spring season, but it hasn't been a difficult transition joining up with the players from West Salem," third baseman Kade Fast said. "We have been building team chemistry along the way and we are having a lot of fun playing together. I think that is what is contributing to our current success."The Dirtbags (19-19 overall) also had issues during the American Legion regular season, especially with their depth on the mound, but coach Miles Kizer is optimistic his top arms are tough to match up against in a tournament setting."We struggled at times during the regular season because we didn't have depth at pitching, but we have a very high quality rotation which makes us a more dangerous team during tournament time," Kizer said.That pitching rotation is led by a familiar name to Dallas baseball fans, Jarett Peterson, who pitched a gem in the final game of the Super Regional C Tournament Sunday in Roseburg, an 11-1 win over Springfield. He allowed just one run in a complete-game, seven-inning outing.The Dirtbags defeated Springfield 6-2 on Friday and Roseburg 6-4 Saturday to reach Sunday's regional championship game.Connor Mattison and Caleb Henry round out the tournament pitching staff, each coming off wins of their own in the Super Regional."Even though we had one of the toughest regions, I felt if we played hard we had a good chance," Kizer said of his expectations going into last weekend.Added Fast: "We had a lot of momentum going into the tournament. We had won our last few league games, including one against Springfield, so our confidence was pretty high."That confidence was evident at the plate, especially with the recently graduated Dallas players. Keaton Weaver had a solid Super Regional, going 4 for 8 with three doubles, four runs scored and four RBI."I attribute a lot of my success at the plate to the coaching. They changed my swing around slightly at the start of the year and I have felt more comfortable every day since," Weaver said. "They have really helped me focus on the big picture instead of one at-bat."Unfortunately for a Dirtbags team that's a little thin, Weaver will be out of action for the state tournament due to an upcoming shoulder surgery on his labrum.See DIRTBAGS, Page 11ADIRTBAGSContinued from Page 10A"I have total faith our team will battle, I wouldn't be surprised if we made a little run late into the weekend," Weaver added.With Weaver out, more will be expected from the other bats including Fast, Scott Schepige, Peterson and Bret Moskal, who accounted for more than half of all the run production for the Dirtbags in the Super Regional.What are their expectations as they look forward to the state tournament?"This is my first year coaching an American Legion team, so I really have no idea what to expect when we go to state. I know we will be playing with the seven other best teams in the state and the first game will be against a Portland team we haven't seen yet. It will come down to who is playing the best ball at the time and we are doing that," Kizer said. Said Fast: "We are kind of an underdog. We have the worst record of any team at state, but that means the other teams are probably going to overlook us and we must just sneak up and do some damage."Weaver added: "I know our guys will have a blast down there and can compete with anyone.""I've told them all season, if this was something they truly wanted, they had the talent to go out there and get it," Kizer said. The Dirtbags open the state tournament against the East Side Barbers out of Portland at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday. All games will be played at Harry & David Field in Medford. You can keep track of their progress this weekend on the team website by searching for "Wilson Post 20 Dirtbags." What : Dallas/West Salem-based Wilson Post 20 DeMarini Dirtbags at Oregon American Legion AAA State Baseball Tournament. When : Wednesday through Sunday. Dirtbags open against Portland East Side Barbers at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday. Where : Harry and David Field, Medford. Participants : Canyon Crushers of Stayton, Northwest Star East County Knights, Portland East Side Barbers, DeMarini Dirtbags, Grants Pass Nuggets, Corvallis Marketmen, Medford Mustangs, Columbia Gorge Hustlers. Tickets : $15 for tournament pass, $5 single game. Television : ROOT Sports Network. For more info: www.MedfordMustangsBaseball.com.


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