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Riverdogs gear up to host Regional World Series Tournament

by CASEY MCCARTHY
Staff Writer | July 13, 2021 1:00 AM

EPHRATA — The Columbia Basin Riverdogs 18U team gets set this week to host and compete in the Babe Ruth League Pacific Northwest 16-18U Regional Championship Tournament, with a chance to advance to the Babe Ruth World Series in Mobile, Alabama.

Ephrata High School’s baseball fields will be the host site for the tournament, with pool play Wednesday through Friday and knockout games on the weekend. Three four-team pools will face off in round-robin play during the week with the top two teams from each group advancing to play on Saturday.

The Riverdogs organization has hosted the Babe Ruth League World Series before, most recently in 2017.

Head coach Donnie Lindgren said the team has gotten in about 30 games so far this season. Lindgren said he’s liked to see the competitiveness return.

“The last two weeks we’ve been in one championship game and one semifinal at two of the bigger tournaments around,” Lindgren said. “We had to fight being down late in the game and our guys are just starting to put it together. The positions, the batting order doesn’t change much but guys are figuring out their roles.”

After a rough start, the Riverdogs have won seven of their last 10 games. The team was challenged by a knee injury sustained by one of its senior players, Jett Nelson, forcing younger players to step up.

Lindgren said what he’s liked about this year’s team is there isn’t one player who stands out, just an array of quality players. Adding two new pitchers to the team has helped expand the bullpen, too.

If he’d been asked three weeks ago before beefing up the pitching rotation, Lindgren said, he isn’t sure how confident he’d be this team could make a run and win the five or six games needed to go to Alabama.

“In the last two or three weeks, these guys have learned to compete, learned how to win and I feel confident in them,” Lindgren said. “They don’t have the big-name guys we’ve had in the past but it seems like every one of these kids is competing. One through nine in the batting order, someone’s getting a clutch play.”

The Riverdogs will kick off their campaign for a trip to the World Series Wednesday night at 8 p.m. against an opponent out of Wyoming.

The Riverdogs suffered a hard loss this year with the passing of longtime general manager and founder of the Columbia Basin Babe Ruth League, Randy Boruff. Under Boruff’s tenure, the organization hosted seven World Series events and won two, in 1998 and 2005.

The Riverdogs team members honored Boruff with his initials on their hats this season and Lindgren said Boruff is a “good friend” who meant a lot to him and many others in the local baseball community.

Lindgren said he’s not sure people realize just how much Boruff did behind the scenes.

“We’re hoping we can finish up with a trip to Alabama for him and go from there,” Lindgren said.

Casey McCarthy can be reached via email at cmccarthy@columbiabasinherald.com.