Dungies tested by veteran sluggers


It’s no secret: our Mid-Coast Dungies have fallen short on pitching and hitting in clutch situations with men on base and that long ball over the fence.

So there was hardly any shock when the Dungies clawed their way to a battle over last place Sunday with the Walla Walla Bears during the 43rd Annual Mickey Riley Star-Spangled American Legion Baseball Tournament. At least the Dallas Dirtbags, bitter rivals, fared no better than a middling bid for fourth.

But look at it this way: with this summer’s team of eleven recent high school graduates and nine underclassmen — some who aren’t shaving yet in league where major league velocities and beards are widespread — it’s not unusual for such a fresh-faced team to find the grind of a tough American Legion schedule difficult.

However, there is great promise in next year’s roster. Our three coaches are on top of player needs and are working hard to help them to improve. Take your hats off to head coach Taylor Plesha and his two field assistants, Carlos Munoz and Dugan O’Neill. Jake Postlewait helps out as pitching coach whenever his schedule permits.

These hard-playing kids still have to face teams heavy with 6A and 5A talent. The Post 20 Dirtbags boast players from 5A state champion Central H.S., the 6A West Salem Titans and a smattering of seasoned players from Newberg to Dallas. It is fun to watch them play because they are a veteran team. Then there are those Gerding Builders Marketmen from Corvallis Post 11, which salts the roster with hand-picked players from baseball towns such as Philomath, Albany and Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Post 16 Whitnell Dodgers absorbs the best from Willamette University. The Keizer Crushers tap the best at big McNary High, while the Mid-Valley Southpaws recruit corn-fed all-stars for games at Stayton High School.

So, why don’t you get on over to Frank Wade Field in Newport and watch some games this summer? On Wednesday, July 10, the Dungies meet the Whitnell Dodgers in a double-header at home, with another two-game contest against the Keizer Cruisers on Monday, July 15. Game times are 3 and 5:30 p.m. with a $2 admission fee.

On July 18-20 the Dungy Invitational will feature teams from Oregon’s American Legion posts. Look for more information in your News-Times sports calendar.

When you venture on out to the home games, look for some solid play from these young pin-stripers: Kaden Bruns, and Jon Fritz, sophomores at Newport High; Josh Salsbery, who just graduated from Taft playing the spark plug role this season; Mitchell Richwine who will be a senior at Nestucca this fall and a strong all-state candidate; Caleb King and teammates from Taft Eli Demello and Jack Stemple. Look out for those 3-A Taft Tigers next spring.

Let’s not overlook the solid play of Bryce Bridge playing for Chemeketa CC from Neah-Kah-Nie High; Mason McAlpine a junior at Toledo alongside teammate Ashton Retherford. Gabe Simington from Siuslaw High and junior Griffin Thissell from Waldport have been steady players this season with the Luckini boys, Traxton and Trenton, recent grads from Newport showing up at varied positions doing multi-taxing tasks.

Add into this mix Cole Braxling, a recent All-Stater playing at first base and a recent Newport grad; Tyee Fisher from Taft High who leads the sideline cheering crew; leadoff batter Cole Strober from Pacific City; Tyler Biddinger a senior this fall at Newport; Mitchell Johnson a junior this fall at Newport and Ryan Torres, a recent All-State Grad pitcher from Newport. These are the makings of the 2019 Dungies.

Maybe you did not know that the Dungeness Crab often blends into its surroundings so well that it is undetected. They often stick their heads into the sand when they feel there is some type of danger around them. Well, our Dungies have blended into the loss column long enough and they have been detected as the team to win out against Salem-based Whitnell Dodgers when they come to town.

We’ll see you at Frank Wade Field.

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