We’re just a few games away from the regular season of collegiate summer league baseball coming to an end. The Big Sticks clinched a spot in the playoffs after their win over the Canyon County Spuds earlier this week.
They’ll face the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs in a divisional matchup that coaches and players say they’re looking forward to.
“We just want to continue to play good baseball, solid baseball. Play hard, play fun, play fast,” said Alex Miklos, head coach, Souris Valley Sabre Dogs.
The Sabre Dogs clinched a playoff spot in the Lewis Divison in the first half of the season
Despite already being locked in, they continue to win, game after game.
“It’s important that you stay ready and ready to go. If you just kind of let loose, or kind of let it drift off, you’re not going to be ready for when the playoffs come. So you want to keep that high-intensity and high level of play so it’s easy to go right into playoffs,” said Reece Anderson, centerfielder, Souris Valley Sabre Dogs.
Looking ahead to the divisional playoffs, the Sabre Dogs and Big Sticks will meet up for the fifth time this season.
“I feel like we owe them a little bit. We’ve had two rain-shortened games this summer. Only two games have been rain-shortened and both of them have been against them and we lost both of those games. So, I kind of feel like we’ve got a little bit of something to give them. But, no I mean, Billy’s got a good club. We have a good club. It should be a good series,” Miklos said.
Both teams share their thoughts going into Monday’s matchup.
“Every time they come out, they’re ready to play. I haven’t seen one time where they weren’t ready to play. We have a staff that just is incredible, and like I said, the lineup is phenomenal as well. They have a team full of guys, about like us, you put them in or you don’t, they’re going to be ready, they’re going to go all the time. It’s going to be a great matchup,” said Travis Ray Jr., infielder, Badlands Big Sticks.
“It’ll be exciting to see and the mindset doesn’t have to change. We’ve just got to make sure that we handle business and play Big Sticks baseball. We do that, we’re going to be in a pretty good place,” said Billy Tomblin, head coach, Badlands Big Sticks.
“They’re a good team, certainly. They can hit, they can pitch a little bit. But, like we just said, we’ve got to compete. That doesn’t change no matter what team it is,” said Alex Thurston, infielder, Badlands Big Sticks.
“They’re kind of solid all-around. They put the ball in play good against us at least. And, they’ve held us to some of our shorter, less run games. So, it’ll be important for us to keep our bats going and kind of do what we’ve been doing all season,” Anderson said.
“They’re a solid ball club. We’ve played a lot of games with them this year. A lot of close games with them this year. They’re an athletic team that can pitch hit. So, it’ll be a good test for us,” Miklos said.
“We’ve played them a ton and they’re a bunch of great guys with especially really good pitching. We have a great offense so I think it’s just going to be a great matchup overall,” said Taylor Justus, catcher, Souris Valley Sabre Dogs.
The Sabre Dogs credit some of their success to an aggressive offensive, consistency and finding more than one way to score runs. But catcher Taylor Justus says it’s something you can’t find on the diamond.
“I would say, honestly, the atmosphere. Everyone loves being here. Everyone really wants to win and kind of finish it out and end up winning the championship. I would say that’s what’s motivating us the most,” Justus said.
The Big Sticks host the Sabre Dogs Monday, August 9 for game one of the playoffs.
They’ll head to Minot for game two on Tuesday and game three on Wednesday if needed.