Erratic Roughriders head to state tournament with renewed hopeThe term Jekyll & Hyde has developed into something of a sports cliché. But the Dickinson Roughriders are a good example of why that is.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
The term Jekyll & Hyde has developed into something of a sports cliché. But the Dickinson Roughriders are a good example of why that is.
The Roughriders coaches and players believe they embody the characteristics of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, the titular characters in the classic tale of a man with split-personality disorder.
Throughout the summer, the American Legion baseball team has been as unpredictable as the character in the story.
“Some days, we’ll hit a little bit against pitching that’s decent. Some days we won’t hit at all,” Roughriders coach Andy Emard said. “Some days we’ll make adjustments and field a little bit (better). Some days we won’t field at all.”
That erratic play has resulted in the Roughriders taking the No. 8 seed into the Class A American Legion baseball state tournament. They face No. 9 seed Jamestown at 7 p.m. MDT today at Kraft Field in Grand Forks.
The tournament is double-elimination format with nine inning games. The state champion advances to the Central Plains Regional Tournament, which will be held Aug. 4-8 at Southside Municipal Ballpark in Dickinson.
Because it hosts the Central Plains Regional, Dickinson will play in the tournament regardless of its finish at state.
Nonetheless, Emard has said all season that the Roughriders have been working toward giving a strong performance in the state tournament.
“To this point, the kids have worked their tails off. It’s never been a question of that,” Emard said. “Now it’s which team is going to show up. If they take care of the baseball, have good approaches at the plate and throw strikes, I think we can shock some people. I think we can force some upsets and make a statement in the tournament.”
It’s not like Dickinson can’t be productive, either.
When the Roughriders visited Jamestown on July 12, they won the doubleheader 14-1 and 11-0.
On that same road trip, they crushed No. 10 seed Devils Lake 10-0 and 16-2 and split with No. 4 seed Grand Forks with a 6-5 win and an 11-4 loss in what Emard said were well-played games.
As for the 12-0 home loss against No. 2 seed Mandan on July 14?
“We got beat 12-0, but for five innings, defensively and pitching-wise, I was impressed with where we were at,” Emard said.
Infielder Grant Dvorak pointed to wins the Roughriders earned over high-profile out-of-state clubs during tournaments in Billings, Mont., and Rapid City, S.D., as proof that they can win games against difficult opponents.
“Sometimes it’s what team shows up,” Dvorak said. “If we have the right team show up, we’re a dangerous team.”
Emard said now it’s a matter of putting everything together at the right time.
They were swept in doubleheaders by Minot and Williston last week. And in every game, walks contributed to the Roughriders’ downfall.
“We don’t really have one good overpowering pitcher, but I think we have enough pitching where we can bring someone in if somebody gets in trouble and they can do the job for us,” Dickinson starting pitcher and infielder Aaron Berg said.
The Roughriders know they will have to score runs and rely on their pitching staff to keep the ball in the strike zone and inside Kraft Field — one of the state’s deeper parks — for them to be competitive.
“A lot of the balls are going to stay in the yard for us,” Emard said. “We’re not a team built off pitching. So turning them into nine-inning games, that doesn’t play in our favor. But the field is big enough to where hopefully we can eliminate home runs.”
Dickinson ended its regular season without a home win Sunday when it lost a resumed game to Williston 12-0. The game was suspended in the third inning Friday night by severe thunderstorms with Williston leading 7-0.
The Keybirds secured the state tournament’s top seed with the victory.
Despite ending the regular season on a down note, Emard said the team has been improving.
“If we go back to where we were at the beginning of the season, yeah they’ve improved, but we’ve been gearing up for this point,” he said. “The guys have earned it, to put a product out because they really have worked hard.
“They’ve been putting in the time to get better. But now it’s production time. They’ve got to produce with it.”
North Dakota Class A state tournament
At Kraft Field, Grand Forks (all times CDT)
1) No. 7 Minot vs. No. 10 Devils Lake, 5 p.m.
2) No. 8 Dickinson vs. No. 9 Jamestown, 8 p.m.
3) No. 3 Bismarck vs. No. 6 Fargo, 11 a.m.
4) No. 4 Grand Forks vs. No. 5 West Fargo, 8 p.m.
5) Game 1 winner vs. No. 2 Mandan, 2 p.m.
6) Game 2 winner vs. No. 1 Williston, 5 p.m.
7) Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 11 a.m.
8) Game 1 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 2 p.m.
11) Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 5 p.m.
12) Game 6 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 8 p.m.
9) Game 7 winner vs. Game 5 loser, 11 a.m.
10) Game 8 winner vs. Game 6 loser
13) Game 11 loser vs. Game 10 winner, 8 p.m.
14) Game 12 loser vs. Game 9 winner, 5 p.m.
16) Game 14 winner vs. Game 13 winner, noon
15) Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 3 p.m.
17) Game 15 loser vs. Game 16 winner, 6 p.m.
Championship: Game 15 winner vs. Game 17 winner, 1 p.m. (second championship game at 4 p.m. if necessary)