All together nowPete Dobitz said he’s never had a baseball team quite like this.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Pete Dobitz said he’s never had a baseball team quite like this.
From their humorous rally antics in the dugout to their steady pitching, consistent defense and clutch hitting, this Dickinson High baseball team is everything Dobitz wants and more — even if there isn’t a sure-fire college prospect in the bunch.
It’s about more than that for the Midgets though. This, Dobitz said, is a team any coach would want.
“This is probably the most team chemistry I’ve had in 12 years of coaching here,” said Dobitz, who has led Dickinson to three state championships. “The chemistry is all through the 18 guys on the roster, not just the nine guys I’ve got on the field. It’s awesome.”
The Midgets’ team play reached an apex last week when they won the West Region Tournament championship.
This morning, Dickinson (18-11) opens the Class A state tournament against Fargo Davies (24-11), the No. 4 seed out of the East Region, at 10:30 a.m. at Mandan Memorial Ballpark.
Coming off back-to-back seasons in which they lost out after two games in the West Region Tournament, the Midgets certainly weren’t a favorite to win the region title, let alone be one of the favorites to win a state championship. West Region coaches picked them sixth in a preseason poll.
“Not really everyone thought we could get here, but we’re here and we’re just going to take it a game at a time and see how far we can get in the tournament,” senior pitcher and infielder Mason Schiff said. “It just felt like we concentrated to the best of our abilities and we competed like we know that we can. There were a few games we feel like we should have had back, but in the scheme of things, that doesn’t really matter. It’s all tournament time.”
The Midgets are a team seemingly set up for tournament play, beginning with their reliable trio of starting pitchers.
Senior Mason Schiff and juniors Alex Huschka and James Kary all threw complete games in the West Region Tournament and combined to surrender just one run and 10 hits. That one run came when Huschka gave up an RBI single against Bismarck St. Mary’s in the first inning of the tournament opener.
After that, the trio pitched 20 consecutive scoreless innings.
“Twenty consecutive shutout innings in the tournament, that’s crazy,” Dickinson junior catcher Brady Dutchak said with a smile. “I love it. It’s easy catching for them. They trust me, I trust them. I know what they want to throw. It’s easy and it’s fun.”
Huschka, Kary and Schiff have a combined 11-2 record and 2.01 earned-run average.
Schiff, the only player on the Midgets’ team who was a part of the 2009 state championship squad and won an American Legion state title that same year, said defense has been the team’s backbone during their end-of-season surge.
“We’ve found some guys we can count on to throw strikes and let our defense work,” Schiff said. “That’s one of our positives too, is solid defense. We trust our guys to make the outs. That’s been a positive for us.”
Though they scored just eight runs in the West Region Tournament, the Midgets are sure capable of hitting the ball when they need to, outscoring opponents 103-67 in games that either counted toward the region standings or were in the tournament.
Senior Taylor Thiel has driven in 24 runs and is batting .372 with eight doubles. Huschka is batting .339 and Dutchak is batting .314. As a team, they hit .280.
“Hitting has been a little sporadic, but that’s going to happen,” Kary said. “Hopefully the bats come alive next weekend.”
Base running is also one of the Midgets’ fortes. They have 67 stolen bases, led by sophomore Dylan Skabo’s 15.
Aside from all their positives on the field, Dobitz said he can see just how in sync his team is by what they do away from it or in the dugout.
He laughs about their late-inning rally rituals, in particular when the players in the dugout all put on their batting gloves or stand in numerical order by jersey.
“They’re thinking up rally stuff to do in the dugouts between innings to try and score a run,” Dobitz said.
“It’s crazy, but it’s the kind of things like that that keep a team loose. If you’re stressed out all the time, you don’t play loose and then you make mistakes. It’s fun to be around it.”