Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

By Gerry Steele

Earlier this school year Dan Blankenship stepped down as Bulldogs baseball coach to be able to follow son Derek's final season at George Fox.

In stepped Tim Smith, who helped coach the Baker frosh/soph team a year ago.

"I was hoping to gain some experience last year," Smith said.

Smith had coached high school baseball from 1999 thrugh 2003 as an assistant to then-Baker coach Al McCauley.

"I've had experience at the junior varsity level, and wanted to get back into coaching baseball again," Smith said.

The Bulldogs return six players with varsity experience, including five returning starters.

Caleb Custer and Mason Cline return on the mound, Keaton Bachman at shortstop, Micah Mespelt at catcher and Chace Dixon as a utility player.

"We bring back, in my opinion, the league's best pitching staff," Smith said.

Custer, Cline, Taylor Gulick and Kyle Srack make up the starting rotation.

Bachman and Dixon will see time in middle relief.

Austin Folkman also could see time on the mound, although he recovering from shoulder surgery.

Mespelt will be the everyday catcher.

"Micah is a solid catcher," Smith said. "He also could see time on the mound."

Cline will be the backup catcher.

Srack and Austin Plumbtree are penciled in at first base.

Custer and Stephen Schott will see time at second.

Bachman and Cline will share time at shortstop.

Cline, Dixon and Schott are in the picture at third.

Folkman, Dixon, Dakota Parsos, Gulick, Srack and Bridger Cook will see action in the outfield.

"Our strength will be our pitching battery," Smith said.

"It needs to be our strength.

"We're hitting the ball well this spring. Lots of time in the cages has helped."