Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

When Baker takes the field at Henley Tuesday it will be the third time in school history the Bulldogs have reached the state baseball semifinals.

Baker is hoping to take this season one step further - a berth in the Class 4A state championship game June 6 at Salem-Keizer Stadium.

"We've never been to the state title game in baseball," said Baker coach Dan Blankenship. "It's time for us to get there.

"These kids have worked extremely hard this year," he said.

"These kids are not afraid to make the plays. And, mentally, I think we're a little stronger than in past years."

Blankenship noted that this year's semifinal contest will be on the road, away from the Baker Sports Complex where the Bulldogs were 17-1. He also noted that the other two times Baker reached the semifinals - 1989 and 1993 - the semis were on nthe road.

"Both of the other times were on the road; now it's our turn," Blankenship said.

"Hopefully, we're a little smarter the third time around."

In 1989, the Bulldogs lost 5-4 at St. Helens. Baker ace Kevin Logsdon took the loss in relief of Tim Spaulding.

In 1993, Baker lost 9-5 at The Dalles. Brian Maddox, Jeff Stricker and Ethan Burke threw in that game. The 1993 team won 23 games, the record this year's team broke with its 24th win of the season Friday against Newport.

"The other two teams always had pretty legit pitching that we counted on," Blankenship, who coached all three teams, said.

"Loggy's crew, he was so dominant on the mound, and he had a solid team behind him.

"This crew, I think we're the strongest up th emiddle - catcher, second, short and ceter field - of any crew we've ever had, and as strong as anybody at any level in the state.

"We don't have that dominant pitcher we had then. That's why we're going with Cole Brown and Derek all the way through. Those two guys are set up to split the time on the mound as far as we go."

Blankenship said he feels this year's team is a better hitting team than the other two.

"I think we're better hitters one through nine than in those other years," he said. "We had some great athletes on both those other teams. But, I truly believe our facility helps us be better hitters now. We're a lot more specialized than we were back then.

"We a lot more specialized than we were 10-15 years ago. Our program has come a long way," the Baker coach said. "We've had great annual support from the community, and our program just continues to grow because of it."