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Dallas graduate Kade Fast, left, takes a lead from first base in front of the Canyon Crushers’ Sam Moreno in the Post 20 DeMarini Dirtbags’ home opener June 5. The Crushers won, 7-1.
June 12, 2013
DALLAS -- With his team down five runs, Kade Fast belted a line-drive double up the middle.
Scott Schepige, already breaking for second base on a hit-and-run call, lumbered around to score in what appeared to be the start of a fifth-inning rally.
No, despite the Dallas High teammate connection, this wasn't a Dragons baseball game.
It just happened to be the first home game of the season for the Post 20 DeMarini Dirtbags, the 20-and-under summer squad sponsored by the American Legion.
Unfortunately for the home team, Game 1 went to the visiting Post 58 Canyon Crushers of Stayton, 7-1.
"We have a lot of talented guys coming back," said Fast, a recent DHS graduate who is headed to play at NCAA Division III national champion Linfield in the fall.
"We just kind of need to get back in the flow of things and get used to each other before we start seeing results."
The Dallas-based squad, which was resurrected last season after a 10-year hiatus, returns five players from the 2012 team that went 20-17.
The 2013 roster includes five recent graduates from Dallas High: Fast, Schepige, Jarett Peterson, Bret Moskal and Keaton Weaver; two players from Central: David Vidal and Branden Cutsforth; and five from West Salem: Brady Rediger, Jacob Riddell, Connor Mattison, Andy Armstrong and Caleb Henry.
Cutsforth won't be able to play, however, as he's coming off recent Tommy John surgery and will miss the summer season on the field, but will still travel with the squad.
Miles Kizer, current Western Oregon University assistant coach and an assistant for the Dirtbags last season, takes over at the helm from former coach Kellen Walker, now the head coach at WOU.
"It's a little different than being an assistant, absolutely, but I'm excited for the opportunity and we've got a great bunch of kids," Kizer, who played catcher for WOU during the 2010 season, said.
In the June 5 opener against Post 58, former McKay standout and current Chemeketa Community College sophomore to-be Alex Emerson stole the show, as he held the Dirtbags to just one run in the game.
He provided some offense, too, as his three-run blast over the center field wall in the second inning made it 5-0 early.
"He threw a lot harder than most of the guys we've seen this year (in high school), but I think we did OK," Fast, who had two hits in the game and the lone RBI, said.
"Obviously, this is our first game, but we're going to see a lot more guys like him, so we'll have to get used to it."
Playing against experienced players is just one of the perks of Legion ball, which is usually considered to be some of the state's best summer competition.
"It's kind of like all-stars for high school," Fast said.
Added Kizer: "I think (American Legion) should be a little higher on people's priority lists -- it's great baseball.
"Club ball's great, and I grew up in Arizona where club ball kind of runs the summers, but I think American Legion, especially in the Northwest, is a special thing that needs to get a little stronger."
SUMMER ON THE DIAMOND
What: The 2013 Post 20 DeMarini Dirtbags, a Dallas-based American Legion team, featuring players from Dallas, Central and West Salem high schools.
When: The Dirtbags' season kicked off June 5 and continues through the end of July.
Where: Home games are played at Dallas High School.