A group of Baker baseball players will temporarily trade the traditional purple and gold of the Bulldogs for Brewer brown this weekend for the 2021 Elkhorn Summer Classic wooden bat baseball tournament at the Baker Sports Complex.
Summer baseball is pivotal for high school programs across Eastern Oregon. After being able to play baseball for just a handful of weeks this spring, Baker coach Tim Smith is ready to give his players more time on the diamond.
“We will play more baseball in the summer than we played during the regular season,” Smith said. “We think it’s crucial.”
Baker played 16 games during the high school season in April and May. Like all high school sports affected by the pandemic, baseball had an abbreviated season.
Five teams are slated to join the Baker Brewers for the Elkhorn Summer Classic — La Grande, Pendleton, Fruitland, Idaho, Homedale, Idaho, and Elko, Nevada.
The teams are divided into a pair of three-team pools, with the Sunday, June 27 championship bracket teams depending on win/loss records in pool play. The championship game is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 27.
Baker is in Pool A along with Elko and Pendleton.
“Usually we play better competition (during the summer) day-to-day, so it’s huge,” Smith said.
He said several Baker players are stepping into their new leadership roles for the Brewers, as multiple players graduated and won’t be playing this summer.
“Hayden Younger, Cody Skidgel, Connor Chastain, and all those kids there, they’re leading us right now, and are doing a good job too,” Smith said.
He encourages local fans to attend this weekend’s games, which start Friday, June 25 when La Grande takes on Fruitland at 10 a.m. on Rudi Field.
Baker opens the tournament Friday at 4 p.m. against Elko, also on Rudi Field. The Brewers will play again at 7 p.m. Friday against Pendleton, also on Rudi Field.
The wooden bat tournament is a major fundraiser for the BHS baseball program.
Smith hopes the Bulldogs can return to the Coach Bob Pride Classic in Arizona during spring break 2022. Baker missed out on that trip in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
“We are hoping that we can do that again next year, so yeah, come out, we hope to see everyone out there,” Smith said.
Elkhorn Classic Schedule
Friday, June 25
• La Grande vs. Fruitland, 10 a.m. (Rudi Field)
• Pendleton vs. Homedale, noon (Lansford Field)
• Elko vs. La Grande, 1 p.m. (Rudi Field)
• Homedale vs. Fruitland, 3 p.m. (Lansford Field)
• Baker vs. Elko, 4 p.m. (Rudi Field)
• Baker vs. Pendleton, 7 p.m. (Rudi Field)
SATURDAY, JUNE 26
• Pendleton vs. La Grande, 10 a.m. (Rudi Field)
• Elko vs. Fruitland, noon (Lansford Field)
• Baker vs. Homedale, 1 p.m. (Rudi Field)
• Pendleton vs. Elko, 3 p.m. (Lansford Field)
• Homedale vs. La Grande, 4 p.m. (Rudi Field)
• Baker vs. Fruitland, 7 p.m. (Rudi Field)
SUNDAY, JUNE 27
• Pool A No. 3 vs. Pool B No. 3, 9 a.m. (Rudi Field)
• Pool A No. 2 vs. Pool B No. 2, noon (Rudi Field)
• Championship: Pool A No. 1 vs. Pool B No. 1, 3 p.m. (Rudi Field)