While the Roseburg, Ore., baseball team seems to have discovered a second home in Spokane, at least one of its most loyal fans has rediscovered her first.
Diane Ampi and her husband, Mike, followed the Docs to the Northwest Regional American Legion baseball tournament that was held Aug. 5-9 at Gonzaga University’s Washington Trust Field. And they were still here on Sunday afternoon, helping cheer their son Vince and his Roseburg teammates to a 9-7 win over Moline, Ill., in a loser-out game in the 2010 American Legion World Series at Avista Stadium.
Unlike many of Roseburg’s fans, who returned home between the two events, the Ampis simply extended their stay with Diane’s mother, who lives in Liberty Lake.
“I’ve been lucky, and I’ve been spoiled,” said Diane Ampi, a graduate of Shadle Park High School, whose maiden name is Deymonaz. “I get to stay with relatives, sleep in a good bed and eat homemade food, so it’s been really fun.”
It helped, too, that the Ampis’ son hit a three-run homer to spark a big sixth-inning rally that kept the Docs and their fans on the road for at least another day. That should give Elli, one of the Ampis’ two older daughters, time to make the 8½-hour drive from Roseburg in time to watch today’s 4 p.m. loser-out game.
“She’s dying to get here and watch Vince play,” Diane said.
Mike Ampi, who works for a Roseburg company that manufactures laminated countertops, also has a Spokane connection, having worked here from 1974 to 1983, first for a fireplace distributorship and later as a construction worker.
It was during that nine-year stay that he met his wife of 26 years. And he, too, is enjoying the family’s prolonged stay in Spokane.
“We’re the lucky ones who don’t have to pay for a motel,” Mike Ampi said, noting he and his wife have spent the last 11 days here. “And I could sure stand to stay here until Tuesday (the day of the ALWS championship game), because I’ve still got a couple of vacation days left.
“But that’s about it, considering how long we’ve been following these guys around now.”
Former EP star makes ALWS return
In 1983, Mike Halloran was named the American Legion Player of the Year after leading Eden Prairie, Minn., to a national championship.
He is back in the ALWS for the first time in 27 years, serving as an assistant coach for his former team. And he is savoring every minute of his return.
“It’s been pretty special,” said Halloran, who is the head coach of Eden Prairie’s high school team, has his son Matt catching on this year’s team and is the only former player of the year to return to an ALWS and coach in any capacity. “And it’s been a real thrill to have my son on the team, too.”
When asked what has changed since he last was a part of the Legion baseball premier event, Halloran quickly pointed to the talent level of the players.
“It’s unbelievable, all the talent these teams have,” he said. “The pitchers throw harder, the kids hit the ball farther – all that stuff. I’d like to think we did that back in ’83, but to be honest, they’re a lot better now, and that’s really great.
“But the one thing that hasn’t changed is the excitement level.”
Roseburg came into the American Legion World Series with an impressive fielding average of .970.
But the Docs have had some major defensive issues of late, having committed 17 errors in their three ALWS games.
“We haven’t played good defense for three games here, and we’re still 2-1,” manager Scott Shaver said following Sunday’s 9-7 win over Moline. “Every team, even in the bigs, goes through a time where if anything can go wrong, it does, and that’s what we’ve got going on right now. Fortunately we’ve done a good job of minimizing the damage.”
Johnny Farrington, Roseburg’s outstanding shortstop, committed two errors on Sunday, and was at a loss to explain his team’s defensive lapses.
“I don’t know what it is about this field,” he said, “but we’re trying not to think about it and make every out a new out. Fortunately, our pitchers have done a great job, and we’ve been scoring a lot of runs.”
Kernersville, N.C.’s 6-1 Sunday night loss to the Oklahoma Outlaws ended a long season for catcher and leadoff hitter Alex Swim.
Swim’s season began in February as a freshman with Elon University, which advanced to the NCAA regionals, before concluding some seven months later.
“I didn’t expect to be playing Legion ball this long and didn’t think I’d be in Spokane,” Swim said.
At Elon, he batted .310, tied for fourth on the team, mainly as the designated hitter.
“I had a pretty good freshman year,” Swim said.
This summer he was leading batter for Kernersville and had seven hits during the World Series.
Mike Vlahovich contributed to this notebook.