ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Work in progress: Midgets segue from seasoned to developing

There's one word above all that describes the makeup of the Dickinson High boys baseball team entering the 2018 season: transition. Coming off of a season where they went 32-4, earned a runner-up finish in the Class A state tournament and are jus...

DHS senior Chris Zubke begins to deliver a pitch to the plate during a contest last season against Jamestown on April 11. (Press File Photo)
DHS senior Chris Zubke begins to deliver a pitch to the plate during a contest last season against Jamestown on April 11. (Press File Photo)

There's one word above all that describes the makeup of the Dickinson High boys baseball team entering the 2018 season: transition.

Coming off of a season where they went 32-4, earned a runner-up finish in the Class A state tournament and are just two years removed from a state title, the Midgets walk into the spring needing to replace all of their starters from the year before.

"We end up having to fill a lot of holes every year, but usually not all nine of them," Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said.

This year's roster is sprinkled with players who have spent time on the varsity level.

When senior catcher Chase Ballard missed time near the midway point of 2017 due to injury, catcher/pitcher Tristen Brunk filled in admirably and was instrumental in Dickinson's run to the state title game.

ADVERTISEMENT

A slew of others such as senior outfielder Colton Jones, senior catcher Dawson Dutchak and senior first basemen Chris Zubke were also solid contributors, but the program will still need to find answers succeeding a group so familiar with the big stage.

"I've seen these guys, so it's not like they're brand new kids that have zero varsity experience, but it'll be a different scenario than what we've had the last two years where I've had seasoned guys," Dobitz said. "Even those guys that have graduated were very seasoned and starters as juniors so it'll be tough to replace those guys but we will do our best."

A year after plating an average of seven runs per game, Dobitz believes the team's scoring will take a hit. With as much inexperience to work with, the Midgets intend to rely on the basics to generate some offense.

"Fundamentally, I think we just have to be able to go station to station," Dobitz said. "We have to be able to bunt a guy over to get him into scoring position. If we get a guy, we've got to find some way to get him in, whether it's hitting the ball to the other side of the field or it's a squeeze bunt or whatever it is. Scoring runs I don't think is going to be a high premium for us this year, that's something we'll have to work at."

While there may not be as much fire power at the plate, DHS does retain some stability on the mound. The senior foursome of Jones, Zubke, Dutchak, and Brunk are key returning cogs, leading a pitching staff that only relinquished two and half runs a game and notched 13 shutouts.

"Having not only seniors but a few juniors that have played, know how to pitch and especially pitch on the highest stage, it's definitely big," Jones said. "When you have somebody that has confidence on the mound, the whole field kind of feels it. And being able to throw strikes definitely helps."

Of the four, Brunk has the most experience on varsity, closing out a number of games on the hill in 2017. But as a junior aiding a squad packed with seniors, he most valued his time working behind the plate and the leadership responsibilities that come with the position.

"That's a big reason I'm glad I play where I play because as a catcher, you are suppose be one of the leaders on the team, you can see everything," Brunk said. "If I could be a leader last year on a team with a bunch of kids that are all older than me, it should be easier with a bunch of kids that are my age or younger that I know and have played with my entire life."

ADVERTISEMENT

Brunk's approach to his role this season is partially a product of how Dobitz has operated his team since the beginning of his tenure, as the program puts particular emphasis on training and working on drills collectively.

"Since I've came here in 2000, we've had everybody practice together. My freshmen practice right alongside the seniors," Dobitz said. "We always say that these older guys are just like another coach on the field during practice so we have these kids that are freshmen and they are doing the exact same drills that seniors are doing. Are they as sound or are they as good at the technique and fundamentals as the older guys? Probably not, but they're learning it and the more repetitions you get, the better you get. So by the time you are a junior or senior, you are going to be able to contribute."

DHS senior Tristen Brunk takes a swing during a contest last season against Mandan on May 13 from Astoria Field. (Press File Photo)
DHS senior Tristen Brunk takes a swing during a contest last season against Mandan on May 13 from Astoria Field. (Press File Photo)

Related Topics: DICKINSON MIDGETS
What To Read Next
Members Only
A string of late goals for Dickinson boys hockey team would be the decider, but wouldn't cease the North Stars 'never say die' effort till the final buzzer.
Magicians secure victory with a three pin contest at an intense dual in Dickinson. 
The Midgets’ win came with an injury to All-State beam title holder Addison Fitterer that could see her out for an extended period of time.
Members Only
Dickinson's Michael McChesney helps lead Team USA to a silver medal finish in the World University Games, inspiring young athletes to strive for greatness