SlumpBuster tournament brings unique visitors to county ballfields


Baseball teams from across the country arrived at Washington County ballfields last Thursday, Friday and Saturday for Omaha SlumpBuster Tournament play.
In Fort Calhoun, the age 14 and younger Rage Red of Davenport, Iowa, played Phoenix's Marucci Athletics Black first. Teams from Highlands, Colo., and Chaska, Minn., meanwhile, started their Arlington stays at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
Blair's two opening games, however, were played between teams from Lubbock (Texas), Barrington (Ill.), Muskego (Wisc.) and Omaha.
In the past, the Arlington, Blair and Fort Calhoun organizations involved in hosting the annual SlumpBuster event noted how it helps in their fundraising efforts for hometown kids. Last Thursday, though, visiting coaches from Iowa, Colorado and Minnesota gave Enterprise Media Group their impression of their baseball trips into Washington County.

Fort Calhoun
The aforementioned Rage Red team from Iowa bested a Phoenix squad 4-1 to start SlumpBuster play Thursday in Fort Calhoun. The Rage scored three runs during the seventh inning to break a 1-all tie.
“Pitching was really, really good today,” said the Davenport-based team's coach, Barrett Scorpil. He also noted his squad's patience at the plate.
It was the team's first SlumpBuster trip and Scorpil admits he wasn't sure what to expect when he saw his 14U team was assigned games north of Omaha in Calhoun.
“I can tell you that I wasn't expecting it to be this nice,” he said. “This field is beautiful.”
Scorpil gave the reasons why he felt that way, too.
“It's got more of the classic feel,” he explained. “It kind of reminds me of when I played baseball and Legion ball in high school at these kinds of fields.”
Altogether, the home diamond of FCHS and the Zig Drywall Post 348 Legion team was scheduled to host nine tournament games Thursday through Saturday. The visiting teams came from Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Texas.
Scorpil's team, however, also had a College World Series trip to Charles Schwab Field in Omaha planned. It was headed there for a game, but to shop, too.
“I'm sure the kids are going to rack up (charges) on all of the parents' credit cards on new baseball apparel or gear,” he said.
Fort Calhoun, meanwhile, hosts eight more SlumpBuster games this coming Thursday through Saturday. Three-game days — Thursday and Friday — start at 9 a.m. before 9 and 11:15 a.m. games on the last day of the tourney.

Blair fields, Hardy and Vets
The 14U Parker, Colo., Sting continued their Omaha SlumpBuster debut Thursday on Hardy Field at the Blair Youth Sports Complex.
“This is our last year together as a team before they go to high school, so we thought it would be a good trip,” coach Jared Bunyak said of his tight-knit squad, which has grown up together since 7U ball. “This is kind of our swan song.”
The Sting played one of the six games played at Hardy on Thursday and Friday. Three more were scheduled for Saturday before they were called off by rain.
The Sting represented Colorado, while others played tourney matchups out of California, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska.
“We've enjoyed it so far,” Bunyak said. “Our hotel is probably 30 minutes away, but it's a nice drive in through these towns.”
Nine more Blair-hosted games were set to be played at Vets Field after Post 154 Legion coach James Bilslend said he arrived at 5:30 a.m. to spruce up the diamond Thursday after the storm of June 12. Teams from Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin and Nebraska were all to play on the Bears' home field before rain cut Saturday's games from the schedule.
Hardy and Vets Field will host 18 more SlumpBuster games this Thursday through Saturday, though. Games on Thursday and Friday start at 9 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. before 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. games on Saturday.

Washington County Fairgrounds
The 14U Chaska (Minn.) Hawks put up a team flag at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Thursday. The Arlington field there was the site of their SlumpBuster debut, too, after a previous big tourney trip to Cooperstown, N.Y. — the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum.
This Omaha trip, however, was suggested to the Hawks, too.
“Everybody talked about how great it was, so we came down here,” coach Tate Brandt said.
He explained how the SlumpBuster was a little different with some of the seemingly random field assignments from Council Bluffs to Arlington, but that wasn't a bad thing in his eyes.
“It's just fun to see all of the new stadiums and play teams that we usually don't,” Brandt said. “That's why we travel. We just want to get away from all of the same stuff we normally do.”
The Chaska coach gestured to other teams at the fairgrounds on Thursday.
“Those guys were from Colorado and these guys are from Kentucky,” he said. “That's fun.”
Altogether, the home of the Post 71 Eagles was scheduled to host nine SlumpBuster games Thursday through Saturday with at least one team each from California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska and Chaska's home state — Minnesota.
“Tomorrow we're going to the (College) World Series and we're having a 'purple out,'” Brandt said. “Everybody's going to wear purple to go to this.”
His group, he said, makes the most out of big baseball trips.
“We just make an experience of it,” he explained.
More out-of-state teams will arrive in Arlington this Thursday and Friday for more tourney competition. The days' first games start at 9 a.m. before another at 11:15 and the last at 1:30 p.m.

Omaha SlumpBuster