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Riverdogs 15U boys gear up for regional tournament

by CASEY MCCARTHY
Staff Writer | July 23, 2021 1:00 AM

EPHRATA — The Columbia Basin Riverdogs 15U baseball club is preparing for the Pacific Northwest 13-15 Babe Ruth Regional Tournament in Kelso, Washington next week.

The Riverdogs defeated the Naches Rangers 15-4 in the North Washington Babe Ruth State Championship on July 13 to advance to the Regional Tournament. After a pair of tune-up games Tuesday against the Othello Red Raiders, the Riverdogs will head to Kelso Sunday.

The Riverdogs’ first game is at 10 a.m. on Monday, against the South Oregon champions, and they’ll play again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Single elimination play and the regional championship will take place Saturday with the winner advancing to Eagle Pass, Texas, for the World Series.

Riverdogs head coach Jaime Vela said the team’s improvement since the beginning of the summer has been “tremendous,” and he’s been working with many of the players since February at The Six training facility.

“Fourteen and 15 is kind of a special age because these kids develop a lot in these six or seven months,” Vela said. “These kids have given nothing short of maximum effort, they’re doing amazing things.”

Vela said he has players on his team like Anson Gustafson, Nolan Crawford and Jackson Carlos who he is excited to see develop.

Vela also said the Riverdogs have guys across the lineup who can make clutch plays when needed, and described his team as “gritty.”

“You hit the ball well and stop the other team from scoring, you usually end up with a ‘W,’” he said.

After spending much of the summer facing up against 17U teams and older clubs around the state, Vela said he likes his team’s odds competing against its own age group.

“I would put us against any 15U club in the state,” Vela said. “We’ve hung in there with some of the best older clubs out there. Our chances against 15-year-olds, I think they’re really good.”

Vela said the team’s strength all year has been its defense and if that’s working next week, he feels like the Riverdogs have a great shot at being crowned regional champions.

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

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Courtesy Photo/Kayla Hoffer

Columbia Basin Riverdogs 15U pitcher Wyatt Cole throws a pitch for the summer baseball squad earlier this summer as the team gears up for the Pacific Northwest Babe Ruth Regional Tournament next week.

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Courtesy Photo/Kayla Hoffer

Johnny Montemayor makes a catch for the play at first base for the Columbia Basin Riverdogs 15U team earlier this summer.