Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark is almost like home to Eli Jung, a Dickinson High alumnus.
His last memory on the field he spent countless hours on over the last seven years came on Monday night, and it could not have gone better.
He put the bat on the ball driving it to center field, and while it did not drop in for a hit, it allowed Gaylan Young to tag from third base to score. The sacrifice fly gave Badlands the go-ahead run and helped them complete a four-game sweep of the Pierre Trappers.
Jung said it meant a lot to him to be at the plate in that situation and come up clutch.
“What better way to end your career on your field than coming up with a game winning RBI,” Badlands head coach Billy Tomblin said.
This summer is Jung’s second with the Big Sticks as he was a part of their inaugural season in 2018.
Jung, who plays at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, believes that this team is closer than the squad in 2018, and he thoroughly enjoys hanging out and being with the guys every single day.
“We have a great coaching staff and have put together a great team,” he said. “There are a bunch of good guys on the team. I love being on the road with these guys and spending every day with them.”
In over 40 at-bats this summer, he is hitting .293 with two home runs and nine RBI.
Tomblin has been impressed with Jung’s work ethic all summer saying he has been trying to learn as much as he can about the game.
“Eli came in and we had guys out there already,” Tomblin said. “We gave him some opportunities. He got to work and was there every day for our sessions. He was trying to soak in any knowledge that he could get from coaches.”
As for playing in at home in Dickinson, Jung is thankful for the chance to be able to live his parents for the summer and play in front of people he has known his whole life.
“It means a lot playing at home. I played in Iowa last summer and it just wasn’t the same,” he said. “That is one reason I wanted to come back once they decided they were going to have a season. It is great to play at home and in front of the people I have always played in front of.”
Even though the Big Sticks may have up to a couple more home games in the Expedition League championship series, Jung won’t be here if the team makes it that far.
He has to go back to school on Aug. 20 the day before the series starts, but that doesn’t mean if the Big Sticks, who are first in the Lewis Division, make it that far that he won’t be rooting for them.
“Eli was ready when (his name was called). He kept plugging away and plugging away,” Tomblin said. “He is like any other college baseball player, he had some ups and downs. His downs never got to where he started though. It is like a roller coaster, but it never went below where he started. It always went up. It says a lot about his character that maybe during a rough game at the plate for him that he kept persevering.”