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Sabre Dogs shine during All-Star week

Ryan Ladika/MDN Kyle Bratset, pictured from his July 2 start, struck out one hitter in 2/3 of an inning during Tuesday evening's 2021 Expedition League All-Star Game.

The Souris Valley Sabre Dogs received a brief period of much-needed respite from their season-long 15-game road trip this week, in the form of the 2021 Expedition League All-Star Break. The festivities were hosted by the Casper Horseheads at Mike Lansing Field in Casper, Wyoming.

Eight Sabre Dogs were selected as 2021 All-Stars, Jordan Williams, Cadyn Schwabe, Kyle Bratset, Jaiden Beck, Beau Brewer, Justin Cooper, Allen Grier and Cullen Hannigan, as well as the Dogs’ coaching staff consisting of head coach Alex Miklos and assistants Michael Newstrom and Benton Schweinfurth.

Before the All-Star Game itself was played Tuesday evening, fans in attendance Monday night were treated to a thrilling home run derby. Each of the 12 Expedition League teams had one representative partake in the event, and Williams, tied for fourth on the team with three long balls in 19 games this season, served as Souris Valley’s entry.

The Dogs’ outfielder matched his season total in the first round with three home runs, a mark bested only by the Fremont Moo’s EJ Taylor and the Hastings Sodbusters’ Trevor Mattson, both of whom clubbed four home runs in their first chances. Western Nebraska’s JT Waldon matched Williams’ three long balls with three of his own.

Williams’ three homers were enough to propel him into the second round, and he swatted three more over the fence in his second opportunity. Waldon again matched Williams with three of his own, and the duo advanced to the final round to square off against each other for the derby crown.

Both hit one home run in the final round, setting up a swing-off. Waldon had first crack at the tiebreaker, and promptly sent his decisive eighth home run of the evening over the fence to earn the win over his Lewis Division rival.

Seven of the eight Sabre Dogs’ All-Stars made an appearance in the All-Star Game the next night; only Schwabe was unable to play due to a wrist injury he suffered July 6. Cooper, Brewer and Grier all made the starting lineup for the Lewis Division, with Hannigan, Williams, Bratset and Beck all making their mark later in the contest.

Cooper and Brewer each received a pair of at-bats through the first four innings, going hitless in the leadoff role and five-spot in the lineup, respectively, before being substituted out. Grier flew out to right field in his first trip to the plate in the second inning before drawing a free pass, stealing second and scoring the first run of the game for the Lewis Division in the fifth.

Hannigan and Williams were thrown into the fire in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, and combined for a single and a walk in three plate appearances.

On the mound, Beck and Bratset each earned brief outings in relief to face off against the best hitters the Clark Division has to offer. The pair pitched well, combining for 1.2 scoreless innings of work with one strikeout on 21 total pitches. The Clark Division would ultimately secure the victory by a 5-3 final score.

With the All-Star Break now in the rear-view mirror, Souris Valley will embark on the second half of its lengthy road trip beginning with a four-game set against the Sioux Falls Sunfish. The series is set to commence Thursday evening with first pitch at 6:35 p.m. from Karras Park.

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