June 23, 2022 — For baseball fans in Florence whose appetite for quality baseball was not appeased by the spring high school season, there’s good news: the American Legion Post #59 Three Rivers Sandblasters are back.
After an eight-year absence from the local baseball scene, the American Legion club team will make its return this summer.
The team is managed by Dan Rankin and Derek Wells is the head coach. Greg Reynolds and Riley Rankin are the assistants.
Players 19 years old and younger are eligible to play American Legion baseball and the team’s roster is filled with current and recently graduated Siuslaw Viking baseball players. The Sandblasters will play in the Oregon American Legion Single-A Division.
Over twenty years ago, Jim Dietz, Bert Mays, Vic Vaccaro and Sue Davidson formed the Western Lane Baseball Association. That association helped fund the building of the Siuslaw High’s indoor hitting facilities and the east baseball diamond. They also started the first Sandblasters team.
The 2022 Sandblasters will play their home games at Jiggs Dodson Stadium on the Siuslaw High campus. Besides the team from Florence, the Sandblasters league includes teams from Coos Bay, Eugene, North Bend and Roseburg.
There have been a handful of attempts to form American Legion teams since the Sandblasters were last on the diamond eight years, but to no avail.
“The goal is to create a summer baseball program for the high school,” Rankin said. “We’ve tried in the past but haven’t had the [player] numbers. It’s a short season, just 16 games, basically four games a week, but at least its more baseball.”
All games are scheduled as double headers.
The Sandblasters open their season at home on Thursday June 23 with a twin bill against Roseburg. Saturday the team will travel to Coos Bay for two games against South Coos at the baseball field at Marshfield High. First pitch is at noon.
American Legion baseball is a variety of amateur baseball played in all 50 states and Canada. According to Wikipedia, 3,500 teams participate each year. There are 46 teams in Oregon.
If the Sandblasters win their league, they will qualify for the state tournament July 20 to 24 at Bob Brack Stadium in Aurora. Oregon’s state champion will move on to the regional tournament in Vernal, Utah, Aug. 5 to 9.
According to the American Legion, the purpose of American Legion Baseball is to give players “an opportunity to develop their skills, personal fitness, leadership qualities, and to have fun.”
This year’s Sandblasters would not be on the field without the support of Three Rivers Casino Resort and American Legion Francis M. Yost Post #59.
For more information on American Legion baseball, go to www.oregonlegionbaseball.org.
Look for Sandblaster scores and coverage throughout the season in the Siuslaw News.
Three Rivers Sandblasters Schedule
All dates doubleheaders
Thur June 23 vs. Roseburg Pepsi 3/5 p.m.
Sat June 25 @ South Coos (Marshfield High) 12/2 p.m.
Sat July 2 @ North Coos (Clyde Allen) 3/5 p.m.
Tue July 5 vs. North Eugene 3/5 p.m.
Thur July 7 vs. North Coos 3/5 p.m.
Sat July 9 vs. South Coos 12/2 p.m.
Thur July 14 @ North Eugene 5/7:30 p.m.
Mon July 18 @ Roseburg Pepsi 5/7 p.m.
July 20-24 State Tournament