Roughriders on a bit of a hot streak heading into regular-season finalesAmidst a rough stint in June, Andy Emard made it known that the Dickinson Roughriders would be playing better at the end of the season. The American Legion baseball coach is a man of his word.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Amidst a rough stint in June, Andy Emard made it known that the Dickinson Roughriders would be playing better at the end of the season.
The American Legion baseball coach is a man of his word.
The Roughriders are 5-2 since the Fourth of July and head into the final four games of their regular season rested, refreshed and ready to keep the good times going.
“Right now, I’m pretty optimistic about the product we’re going to bring into state,” Emard said.
But before they go to the Class A state tournament in Grand Forks next week, the Roughriders host back-to-back doubleheaders beginning today at Southside Municipal Ballpark.
Dickinson plays the Minot Vistas today and the Williston Keybirds on Friday in their final home games before hosting the Central Plains Regional tournament beginning Aug. 4.
Playing error-free baseball is one of the main goals of the weekend, infielder and pitcher Sean Kelly said.
While the Roughriders have had no trouble scoring runs this season, playing clean defense behind their pitchers has been another story.
“We’re starting to get our groove,” Roughriders catcher Grant Dvorak said. “We’ve got confidence now. We feel like we can win everything. We’ve got a little bit of swagger under our belts.”
The Roughriders could use a little swagger down the stretch, too.
They are 11-16 overall and 6-8 in statewide standings. All four games this week count toward their statewide record.
Three wins could move Dickinson as high as fourth in the state standings. Three or four losses and some strong performances by Minot and Fargo Post 2 in their final games could drop the Roughriders back to the eighth seed in the state tournament.
Williston will be a tough draw though. The Keybirds are 10-2 against North Dakota teams and are fighting for the top seed in the state tournament.
The Vistas are 3-9 in the state with six games remaining.
“If we can come away this weekend playing well against good competition in Minot and Williston and go into the state tournament with momentum, I think that’s going to help out immensely,” Kelly said.
There’s no reason to believe the Roughriders can’t keep building on their recent surge, either.
Deep-hitting third baseman Jordan Tescher is beginning to hit his stride while players like Dvorak, Tevin Rettig-Papineau, Aaron Berg and Brett Braunagel are also beginning to peak, Emard said.
Much of that, he said, is that the team is beginning to reap the rewards of the fundamentals they worked so hard to perfect early in the season.
“There’s been some bumps along the way, but I think these guys really are working their tails off,” Emard said. “They’re getting comfortable with where they need to be. They’re starting to understand not just fundamental things now, but we’ve been able to get into some baseball talk, approaches, game situations. We’ve been able to expand off of just throwing, catching, fielding, swinging.
“The guys are able to expand into the game of baseball now.”