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Riverdogs on brink of bracket play

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | August 9, 2022 4:15 PM

EPHRATA – With a 1-2 record through the first three games of pool play in the 2022 16-18U World Series, the Columbia Basin Riverdogs are faced with a matchup against Farmers Baseball tonight for the opportunity to advance to bracket play.

“I hope to continue to see good baseball, well-played baseball,” Riverdogs Head Coach Jason Laugen said. “And being the coach of the Riverdogs, I hope to see us come out of our funk on Wednesday and get the bats rolling again.”

The Riverdogs began play on Saturday with a 10-0 win against the KUBA Kings from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, with a strong outing from the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box.

“The first game, our offense was really clicking,” Laugen said. “I mean, we got 12 hits, scored 10 runs.”

In the following games on Sunday and Monday, the Riverdogs ran into problems offensively. They first fell to the Northwest Bakersfield Waves 6-0 on Sunday evening before losing to the Stamford Thunder 3-1 on Monday evening.

“We played the KUBA Kings, but since then we haven’t been able to hit the ball,” Laugen said. “We’ve lost the last two games, and we’ve got our backs against the wall.”

The World Series features two divisions, with five teams in each division. In bracket play, the top three teams from each division move on for a single-elimination tournament, with hopes to take home the title. The first-round matchups are those by the second and third seed of each division before they move on to face the No. 1 seed.

The winners of the division bracket play will move on to face each other for the championship, which will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“The team from California is really good, the team from Alabama is really good,” Laugen said. “The team from Missouri, they’re a solid ball club. The team from Connecticut, I mean, we lost to them last night - athletically, they may not be the most athletic team in the tournament, but they are probably the scrappiest, most competitive team in the tournament.”

With the World Series teams being composed of state and regional winners from across the country, competition was due to be fierce. Despite dropping two games, some Riverdogs had stood out in Laugen’s eyes.

“Pitching has been okay, Gavin Burns threw well (Monday),” Laugen said. “Peyton Juarez, he has three hits, he’s been hitting the ball well. Tyson Laugen, Ethan Gustafson each hit a home run in the tournament.”

A win against Farmers Baseball tonight would propel the Riverdogs into bracket play by virtue of tiebreakers, having defeated the KUBA Kings in the first game.

“We’ve got our backs against the wall the next game to win that one and advance into bracket play,” Laugen said.

Win or lose, Laugen said that the World Series in Ephrata has been a success from an overall perspective.

“It's just been a real positive overall atmosphere down here,” Laugen said. “Kids are loving the field, loving the opportunity to play in the world series and just having a great time.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

photo

IAN BIVONA/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

The Riverdogs are working to make it as far as possible in the tournament they’re hosting in Ephrata. With a 1-2 record as of Tuesday, it’s uncertain how far they’ll go.

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