PREP BASEBALL: May-Port-CG players develop skills on field they’ve made
MAYVILLE, N.D. -- Aaron Evans' own Field of Dreams has been a six-year building process that is still on-going. On the Evans' farm a few miles northwest of Mayville, a few acres of land has been set aside for a baseball field. There is a dugout, ...
MAYVILLE, N.D. -- Aaron Evans’ own Field of Dreams has been a six-year building process that is still on-going.
On the Evans’ farm a few miles northwest of Mayville, a few acres of land has been set aside for a baseball field. There is a dugout, a scoreboard, a mound complete with pitching rubber and parts of the outfield are enclosed by a metal fence. A creek runs behind part of the outfield and crops surround most of the facility.
“It’s a field myself and some of my baseball friends have been working on since we were seventh-graders,’’ said Aaron Evans, a senior on the Mayville-Portland-CG High School baseball team. “We wanted our own place to chill out and play baseball. We probably play there 2-3 times a week in the summer, for 3-4 hours a night. It’s our own little Field of Dreams.
“My dad (Andy) probably wasn’t all for the idea right away. But once we got things figured out, he thought it was OK. Then he saw that it kept us out of trouble, so he thought it was a good idea.’’
The games are usually sandlot style, 4-on-4 or 5-on-5, with the hitting team providing the catcher. “We have pickup games, take batting practice and work on our fielding,’’ Aaron Evans said.
Evans Field, as the players refer to it, has been a stepping stone for another Field of Dreams. Thursday, the Patriots play Harvey-Wells County at 2:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class B high school tournament in Mandan.
Would the Patriots be going to state if Evans Field hadn’t gone from dream to reality? That’s hard to say, Patriots coach Eric Nygaard said.
“It’s a place they call their own,’’ Nygaard said. “And it has helped their game. With the repetitions they get out there hitting, throwing and fielding, it’s helped develop their skills.’’
May-Port-CG is making its first trip to the state tournament since it finished fourth in 2011. One current Patriot, senior Brady Nygaard, was a regular on that team.
That’s not to say the lineup is without state tournament experience. On the contrary, it is full of players who have been on the big stage.
Starting outfielder Josh Gapp won a state wrestling title this winter. The Patriots won the Region 2 boys basketball title and finished seventh at the Class B state tournament this winter. Baseball regulars Nygaard, Connor Moore, Alec Chandler and Ian Chandler started on that team, while Aaron Ust was one of the top basketball reserves.
“We talk a lot about the state tournament experience we have,’’ Eric Nygaard said. “We went in as the No. 4 seed (in the Region 2 baseball tournament) and won it. That tournament experience had to help.
“We could see Josh was kind of nervous going into the first round. We asked him what was a bigger stage, this or the state wrestling championship. And he pulled it together. I think it’s the same with the basketball kids. They’ve been in big games and nail-biters and have responded well. That had to give them some confidence.’’
The big bats in the May-Port-CG lineup belong to Brady Nygaard (.564, 7 home runs, 29 RBI), Chase Knudson (.412), Alec Chandler (.348), Moore (.326) and and Evans (.309). At tournament time, however, it has been hitting by committee.
The Patriots are 11-8. During the regular season, they finished 7-8 and scored a total of 100 runs. May-Port-CG swept through four games in the Region 2 tournament, totaling 54 runs.
“It seemed like everybody was contributing,’’ Eric Nygaard said. “I can’t explain it. We did shift some guys around in the lineup. It’s crazy how our bats came alive.’’
And, maybe, on the sandlot know as Evans Field, the Patriots have imagined themselves making big hits in big games dozens of times through the years.
“It has to help us,’’ Aaron Evans said. “Most of us really enjoy playing baseball. And we like hanging out with each other.’’