EPHRATA — For a guy that’s played on baseball’s biggest stage, in places like Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati or out west in Dodger Stadium, Ryan Doumit from Moses Lake still has a passion for his hometown Babe Ruth League team and the history behind the Columbia Basin River Dogs.
Doumit was part of that great 1998 River Dogs team that won the Senior Babe Ruth World Series. Seven players from that team were drafted in the Major League Draft. Doumit spent the first seven years of his 10-year Major League career with Pittsburgh, and later played in Minnesota and Atlanta.
Where Doumit and his mates traveled to North Carolina to win a national championship 19 years ago, this year’s River Dogs teams have a chance to win it right here in their own backyard.
The 2017 Senior Babe Ruth World Series starts on Saturday at Johnson-O’Brien Stadium.
“You look at the track record of the River Dogs. I don’t think anybody that knows them or has played against them thinks of ‘em as a team that gets an automatic berth (and doesn’t belong there),” said Doumit, who will be honored, along with the 1998 team, during the opening ceremonies Saturday night. “You look at the win-losses, the caliber of players and tournaments they have played in to get there and that’s a testament to Randy Boruff and the coaching staff. They belong.”
Ephrata will host the Senior Babe Ruth World Series for the third time in the past six years, which, again is a tribute to the efforts of host president and U18 manager Randy Boruff, World Series director Sam Boruff, and assistant director Steve Smith.
“They have hosted this tournament several times and if they were not the competitive team, they would have not been allowed to continue to host it. The fact they are still allowed to host it in Ephrata, obviously says a lot for community and the guys that run it,” Doumit said.
Where teams coming in from North Carolina, Texas, Massachusetts and New Jersey have played together on the same high school team, the Columbia Basin River Dogs don’t even live in the same town.
They come from Ephrata, Moses Lake, Othello, from as far away as Brewster. The mixture of talent is what makes the host team and the U16’s so unique. This year’s bracket will have two River Dogs teams for the first time since 2014.
“It’s quite the (player) pipeline we have around here,” said Doumit, who along with BJ Garbe (Minnesota), Jason Cooper (Cleveland), Brian Skaug (Houston), Stefan Bailie (Boston), Gabe Boruff (Kansas City) and Brian Johnson (Baltimore) were all drafted and played professionally.
“Look at the track record. Look at the roster of names of kids that have gone on to play not just professionally, but gone on to play collegiate baseball from this small little community. It’s a testament to the River Dogs coaches over the years. It’s a testament to the coaches around the Basin. They’re not just giving a kid uniform, these kids are here to compete and they win. There’s quite the tradition winning baseball in the Columbia Basin and that makes me very, very proud.”
The Columbia Basin River Dogs U18 team will open the tournament against Charleston, N.C. in the 8 p.m. game on Saturday. The U16 team, which will play as the Moses Lake River Dogs, drew Mid-County (Texas) in their opener at 4:30 p.m.
The Pacific Northwest will be represented by three Washington teams, two from the Columbia Basin along with the regional champions from Vancouver. The defending champions from Mobile, Ala. will not be here this year. Rawdogs, who won the World Series championship four times in the past seven years, were eliminated by Mid-County (Texas) in the Southwest Region.
It’s game-on and the newest champion will be determined Aug. 12.
Blue Lick vs. Tucson, 11 a.m.
Cape Cod vs. Surry County, 2 p.m.
Moses Lake vs. Mid-County, 4:30 p.m.
(Opening ceremonies to follow)
Columbia Basin vs. Charleston, 8 p.m.
(Fireworks to follow)
Mid-County vs. Vancouver, 11 a.m.
Cape Cod vs. Mt. Olive, 2 p.m.
Tucson vs. Moses Lake, 5 p.m.
Surry County vs. Columbia Basin, 8 p.m.
For the complete schedule, log on to http://www.ephrataworldseries2017.com/page/show/2532781-series-week
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org