NEWPORT — The talented Newport Cubs baseball team dominated the 2019 Oregon West Baseball all-conference selections with enough player choices — nine — to field a team and the coach, too.
Named Pitcher of the Year was Jacob Dobmeier, the hard-hurling senior phenom whose fastballs have been liked to bullets and curves to a corkscrew. He usually averaged over .700 percent on strikes thrown at Major League velocities up to 92 mph. Dobmeier was also a potent batter whose .416 average could crush the opposition. In a signature game in March against Sisters, he threw a no-hitter and slammed a two-run homer, one of seven gone-balls in 2019.
Selected as Coach of the Year was Taylor Plesha, who often acknowledged his responsibility to the team and his town throughout the season. Plesha praised Newport “a baseball town” and set this year’s bar high.
“We’re here to hunt, not hike,” he said, midway through the team’s 19-6 season, which came to an end May 22 against Gladstone, 2-8, in the first round of state playoff action. “It’s a full, straightforward approach to baseball. We put pressure on other teams and make their defense show up to make plays.”
Colton Smith of Sweet Home was tapped as Oregon West player of the year.
Newport had five players on the conference first team, including Dobmeier. Also making the prestigious all-star squad in coach voting were Ryan Torres, Cole Braxling, Kaden Bruns and Jacob Riley.
Senior Torres was the No. 2 pitcher on the squad who won five games and lost three while skillfully managing first and third base as an infielder. In a memorable one-hitter against Dallas, Torres struck out 11 batters across seven innings in the 7-1 victory. No slouch in the batter’s box, he closed the season with a .422 average and led the team in doubles with 13.
Braxling, another senior, made the team as a triple threat who could hurl left-hand and deftly handle key first-base duties while collecting 28 season hits on a .345 average. His fielding yielded an impressive plays-made average of .857.
It didn’t hurt that freshman Bruns, selected on his strength as one of the great catchers in the conference, finished the season with a .383 batting average that included 22 hits to first base and 13 RBIs. In 2019 Bruns made an astonishing 182 putouts, the act of catching a third strike, tagging a runner or throwing him out.
Right-handed pitcher and outfielder Riley, a senior, also made the first team after he drove in 26 runs, hitting .380. Heeding Coach Plesha’s call for disciplined fielding, Riley committed just one error in 24 games and finished the season with a near-flawless fielding average of .958, including a March 15 game at Junction City where he put out four from the outfield.
The second team honors went to utility fielders Mitchell Johnson and Jonathan Fritz. Sophomore Johnson finished the season with a .296 batting average, collecting 24 hits, and a brilliant .940 fielding average that included three jaw-dropping double plays. Fritz, hitting .350, had 25 season hits that sent 19 runners home. Another star fielder, he made 95 percent of his plays.
Honorable mentions went to Addison Galen and Tyler Biddinger. Galen, a left-handed senior pitcher whose sidearm fastball was often brought out in game-saving relief, earned a 1.00 save percentage.
The Cubs were Oregon West champions this year with a 15-3 record.