Cubs return to winning ways

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Dillon Cubs last week got back to basics with a vengeance.

Employing excellent starting pitching and timely hitting, the local American Legion baseball team unsettled the scores against a pair of conference opponents for four lopsided wins, ending a long losing streak and bullying back to a .500 overall record (18-18) on the season.

“We kept our noses down and came out each game trying to fix things and help each other and get back on track,” said veteran Cub Connor Curnow of the approach the team took to bringing an emphatic end to a nine-game skid and kickstarting a winning streak.

“The kids played well,” said Cubs Head Coach Greg Fitzgerald of his players’ performances in recording 15-2 and 10-4 road victories at Anaconda last Tuesday, July 6, and then 13-3 and 12-6 triumphs over the Bozeman Bucks two days later at Cubs Field in Dillon.

“We got through four games with four pitchers,” noted Fitzgerald of the quartet of complete-game wins notched last week by Cub starters Damon Skradski, Conner Vezina, Tyler Lagunas and Cole Pulliam.

“Our pitchers were incredibly efficient,” noted Fitzgerald of an effort highlighted by Vezina issuing zero bases on balls and striking out two while throwing almost 70 percent of his pitches for strikes in the Cubs’ 13-run victory at Anaconda.

“We do preach often to pitch to contact. Baseball is hard enough. We tell our pitchers, if you walk a guy there is no way to get him out, and you have eight other fielders out there to help you out,” said Fitzgerald, of advice his pitchers took to heart last week, gifting just a half-dozen free passes in the four games.

The Cubs offense also proved efficient and potent, recording 40 runs on 42 hits, an output powered by the batting order’s fearsome front foursome of Pete Gibson, Jace Fitzgerald, Connor Curnow and Kale Konen.

“Our top four guys in the lineup are really starting to swing it well,” said Fitzgerald of the group that collectively collected 33 runs scored and 28 RBIs on 23 hits across the four games.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the other team to have four guys at the top of the order who hit that well,” said Curnow, who, along with Fitzgerald, returned to the Cubs lineup after a couple weeks on the sideline with a leg injury.

“It felt great to be out there again,” said Curnow, one of the team’s top hurlers who also expects to get back on the mound soon.

“I had an ankle injury, but it’s good to be back playing and having fun with my teammates,” said Curnow, who believes the Cubs recent surge can propel them through the rest of the season.

“I feel really great about where we are at. We’re putting good swings on the ball and playing pretty solid in the field,” said Curnow, who cooled down some sharply hit balls to the hot corner at third base to record key outs last week.

“We’re climbing right now,” added Curnow, whose Cubs improved to 7-9 in the Southern A District with last week’s four straight wins.

“And at the right time of the season.”

Next up for the Cubs, the sprint of a stretch run of their regular season, during which Dillon will play six games in four days—starting with a 3 p.m. twin bill against the Butte Miners tomorrow, Thursday, July 15, at Cubs Field in Ray Lynch Park in Dillon, and continuing with a 1 p.m. home doubleheader on Saturday, July 17, against Anaconda, and concluding with a 1 p.m. twin bill at the Bozeman Bucks on Sunday.

“Butte could be the third place team in the conference,” said Fitzgerald of the 13-5 Miners, a potential first-round opponent for the sixth-placed Cubs in the district tournament set for July 22–25 in Livingston.

“Hopefully, we can ride a wave of momentum into the postseason.”