Bombers enter fantasyland to garner smooth win

By JOE JASINSKI
Herald Sports Writer

HUNTINGBURG — The Dubois County Bombers had gone rotisserie league and Casey Ryan was appointed commissioner.

Dubois County stood one contest removed from a four-game losing streak — the team’s longest of the season — and stuck 31 games into the sometimes arduous grind of summer league baseball. So a few players organized what they deemed necessary to keep things sane through the toil.
Fantasy baseball it was.

“Today we kind of made it a thing that we were going to have a fantasy day, and we were all going to pick someone in the lineup who we thought was going to have a good day at the plate,” Ryan explained.

He had organized similar in-house drafts with other teams he’d played for. He chose first.
Bo Ausmus. Duh.

Easy choice there, Ryan said. The second baseman has been seeing the ball well all season, and even though Ausmus confesses before each game that he’s due for an off night, it never seems to arrive.

And after Ausmus (.328 average, .492 slugging percentage, 14 doubles) belted a pair of RBI doubles and scored twice in the Bombers’ 10-6 storm past the Marion Bobcats on Wednesday at League Stadium, Ryan’s first overall selection must have looked pretty good, right?
If not for his own performance.

The Burbank, Calif. native, heralded for his speed in center field and on the base paths, impacted the game in almost every facet.

Yet it didn’t start too well.

When Marion’s Cody Brown led off the game with a slap hit that appeared as if it was destined for short center field, Ryan took his first step forward, only to see the ball carry over his head. Brown scooted around for a triple.

“I just got a bad read on it,” Ryan admitted. “But at the same time, it kind of jump-started my day. I just worked to make up for that as soon as possible.”

It took two pitches.

Brooks Balisterri, the ensuing batter, then floated a soft liner to shallow left-center. Ryan closed the gap instantaneously, executing a full-extension diving grab.

With the Bombers (16-16) trailing 2-0 after the initial half-inning, Ryan led off and ripped the first pitch he saw down the left-field line, scampering into second base. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Ausmus’ first double. Dubois County tacked on two more to inch ahead 3-2 after the first frame. They never trailed after that.

Ryan’s day was far from done. He dropped a bunt single down the third-base line in the next inning, walked in the fourth, executed another bunt single in the eighth and reached base all five times he came to the plate. He stole a base and scored a game-high three times.

With the game knotted at 3 in the fourth inning, the Bobcats (6-25) appeared poised to strike again with a runner on second. Brown again cracked a single to center. Ryan corralled the ball and fired a one-hopper to Bomber catcher Rick Linton, who applied the tag at home plate to preserve the tie.

The anecdotes in the field, at the plate and running the bases all point to perhaps the paramount characteristic of Ryan’s repertoire.

“He can really run,” Bombers manager Wes Fink said. “He can really use his speed to his advantage all the time.”

The performance earned the Californian the label of top fantasy performer. Both Shain Showers and Chris Tavarez had picked him in the pregame draft. Ausmus came in second.

“We came in 1-2,” Ryan said of himself and his draft choice. “It was a good day.”

As it was for most fantasy participants.

Andre Davis, Ryan’s West Coast compadre, drove in a pair of runs and scored once. Eric McKibban scored twice, Hunter Serrato notched an RBI double and Showers went 2-for-4 with a double and scored once.

Marion combined for 12 hits while the Bombers peppered Bobcat pitching for 11 hits (five doubles). After Dubois County stranded four runners between the third and fourth innings, it managed one run in the fifth frame, two in the sixth and finally gashed the game open with four more in the eighth.

Starter Michael Paisley permitted one earned run in five innings to pace the Bombers, while Jackson White struck out two in 1 1/3 innings of relief. Clint Chestnut tossed the final 2 2/3 innings to cap Dubois County’s second straight win, the longest current win streak in the ever-tightening Ohio Valley League.

As for the fantasy draft, it seemed to serve its purpose.

“We came up with the idea just to try and keep it loose. With so many games, that can be tough sometimes,” Ryan said.

“So I don’t know if that made everyone a little more relax or what, but we just had fun.”

Contact Joe Jasinski at jjasinski@dcherald.com.




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