There’s no denying the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs had a successful season. With a 44-18 record heading into the post-season, they knew the job wasn’t done until they were named the Lewis Division Champions.
But that wasn’t good enough for them until they had this in hand: the Expedition League Championship trophy.
“That was kind of the message. Just like, ‘Go out there. Play hard. Play fast. Play the game the right way like we have all year. I had confidence that we’d get the job done, if that’s what we did,'” said head coach Alex Miklos.
Getting the Sabre Dogs to be Expedition League champions started before the first pitch was even thrown.
Miklos says he wanted to build a roster of motivated guys who would get the job done. Like Minot State pitcher Dominick Parkhurst.
“You talk about the big moments for pitchers in a season, there’s opening day. And then you look at the playoffs, he pitched our opening night of playoffs and he pitched the clinching game of the championship series. So he probably pitched in three of the biggest games of the season and was dominant in each start,” said Miklos.
And multi-situational pitcher Kainin Morrow.
“He has some of the best stuff on our team, especially velocity-wise, he was one of our hardest throwers. I think he bought into the City of Minot, I definitely know they bought into him and he pitched, you know, like I said, in a variety of roles and really excelled throughout the summer. So, it was special to see him finish on such a high note,” said Miklos.
But if things weren’t going as they planned on the mound…
“We always trust our offense. I know when I’m up there and I give up an early run, if I give up two runs in the first inning, I’m not panicking because I’ve seen our offense go up and put three runs, four runs, I’ve seen us put up 12 runs in an inning. I mean just having that behind you, knowing that if you do make a mistake, it’s not over,” said Parkhurst.
“We had a super tight-knit team this year. So, whether it was me up at the plate, or whoever was up at the plate, it just felt like we had our whole entire dugout with us in that box because we were all super supportive of each other because we knew whether we were successful or failed, offensively or defensively, even the pitchers on the mound as well, that the next guy behind us was going to pick us up,” said third baseman Steven Moretto.
“The camaraderie of the guys and the way that they came together, played for each other and played for the City of Minot throughout the summer. And that they were able to finish it off was just, it was extremely rewarding for me individually as a coach. But mostly just because of how those guys were,” said Miklos.
And it wasn’t just the guys in the lineup who were backing up this team.
“The fans play a huge part in it. It makes everything a lot more fun. It seems like the intense moments, and if you get out of it, like the bases loaded, that we were able to get out of countless times, it just magnifies it that more. And you can really feel the momentum shift,” said Parkhurst.
“It was just an unbelievable place to play and the fans were super engaged in the game and gave us a lot of energy and we were able to feed off of that,” said Moretto.
“It was exciting. It’s a lot different than what I’m used to. With the crowd going crazy and all my teammates running out to me, it was just something I won’t forget,” said pitcher Kainin Morrow.
Aug. 14 is a date the Sabre Dogs will remember forever.
“I’m just waiting because I know what’s going to happen. Everybody is going to erupt and cheer. And we’re all just waiting. We just want to go dog pile on the mound,” said Parkhurst.
“Getting to see them celebrate, and dog pile on the mound and the emotion after the game, that’s why we do it, right? So that was the– it was very rewarding,” said Miklos.
“Awesome feeling with all my teammates dog piling there and we all just, super huge feeling of accomplishment being able to get the first win for the program. We knew how badly everybody else in our dugout and our coaches wanted to win and it felt really good to get it done for sure,” said Moretto.
“A lot of us were just like excited, hugging each other. Some of us were saying, ‘Much love to each other. Like, you’re going to do big things ahead in life.’ Like we were all just congratulating and hoping we could run into each other again,” said Morrow.
While some might say it’s just summer baseball, for these champions, it’s a summer they’ll never forget.
“When you sit down and you look back at it, it was kind of just a perfect storm of a mix of talent and personalities that all kind of came together and did something magical,” said Miklos.