When the Bend Elks took the field this week for their first home series of West Coast League play against the Cowlitz Bears, six new names showed up in the team’s starting lineup.
More than a dozen players that were not on the opening day roster have now joined the Elks. And more will be making their way to Central Oregon over the next couple of weeks as the Elks quickly work through the early parts of the season trying to build a winning ball club.
“We have had a lot of reinforcements coming in,” said Elks coach Kyle Nobach. “I’ve been taking guys into the office one by one and sitting them down and building a relationship with them. That’s the first step in coaching anybody … you have to know them and have a relationship with them.”
In their first WCL series of the season, the Elks were swept on the road by the Ridgefield (Wash.) Raptors. Their roster however, was still made up of players on 10-day contracts, while the Raptors were close to having their full roster.
“That was part of the challenge,” Nobach said. “And what I learned was no matter how much we want to win, and the outcome matters, we can’t get absorbed in the outcome. It is a long season. We are going to play here and we have our guys coming in. And our goal is to compete every night and put up a fight.”
One day after arriving in Bend, Matt Dallas, who played at Lane Community College in Eugene this past season and will play for the University of Oregon next season, was quickly plugged in to play shortstop and batted second in the Elks series opener against Cowlitz (Wash.).
Joining a team and immediately playing on the field was a new experience for Dallas.
“It has been fun so far,” said Dallas, who hit a walk-off double to give the Elks their first WCL win of the season, 2-1, in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader at Bend’s Vince Genna Stadium. “This is my first time playing summer ball. I’ve been welcomed by all the guys. Everyone here has good energy, and we are all here to put a lot of work in.”
After a rainout on Tuesday, the Elks dropped the first game of the Cowlitz series 2-1 in five innings on Wednesday, and wrapped up the series with Thursday’s doubleheader. (Thursday’s second game ended after The Bulletin’s press deadline.)
After an off day on Friday, the Elks will host the Portland Gherkins on Saturday before another three-game WCL series against the Ridgefield Raptors, starting next Tuesday at Genna Stadium.
Bend Bucks open their season
The Bend Bucks — the developmental affiliate of the Elks — open their 36-game schedule with a doubleheader Friday night, followed by another doubleheader on Sunday, both at Genna Stadium.
The Bucks, like the Elks, did not have a season last year due to COVID-19 and are eager to be back on the baseball diamond after a wonky spring season.
“Some played a full season, some didn’t, some played limited,” said Bucks coach James Cordes, entering his fifth season leading the team. “For these kids to come back this summer and have a normal schedule, it is pretty good for them.”
The squad is primarily made up of baseball players from Central Oregon.
Many of the players, Cordes said, played for the Bend-based Boss Baseball 19U team last summer, which Cordes coached.