Post 14 coach Sam Joseph didn't step entirely out of the box this season by putting Jamestown High School's starting quarterback on the pitcher's mound. Call it a calculated risk.
Tommy Falk hadn't pitched a live game since his Babe Ruth days entering June, but the all-state catcher and gridiron signal-caller for the Blue Jays is a gamer. In four appearances on the bump for Joseph and Post 14, Falk is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.05 in 20 total innings of work.
Small sample size? Who cares, as Falk and Post 14 are the top seed for this week's American Legion Class A West Division tournament in Minot.
Jamestown opens play against eighth-seeded Dickinson at Corbett field tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
"Tommy is a competitor," Joseph said. "When you put an athlete up there that competes that's just what happens."
Both the coach and Falk will be the first to admit Post 14's newest ace isn't out there blowing anyone away. Falk has simply thrown strikes. He's accounted for 11 strikeouts to just three walks, while Post 14 has made plays behind him in the field.
"I try and mix it up. I don't know how well it actually is," described Falk of his mound presence. "Fastball, curveball, slider, changeup. Whatever's working."
Falk is one of three Jamestown pitchers with three or more wins and an ERA of less than three, along with Dawson Douty (3-0, 2.17) and Aaron Kleven (4-1, 2.79). Post 14 has competed to a record of 15-10 overall and went 12-2 in West Division competition.
Falk said it's been a fairly smooth transition, having played as one of the state's better prep backstops.
"It's kinda the catching and knowing what I want, and then having a defense behind me that's done a good job because kids have put barrels on balls but we've had guys there," Falk said.
"It's not like he's going to go up there and shut guys down," Joseph added. "It's more of let's pitch to contact and, hopefully, the defense does what it's supposed to do, and that's pretty much what's been happening."
Post 14 captured the West Division regular-season crown outright from the Minot Metros (10-4 West) last Wednesday in Minot, sweeping the Metros 2-1 and 9-2 with Douty and Falk notching the victories. Jamestown has put together a fielding percentage of over 90% at .910 and is hitting .328/.443/.451 as a team entering the postseason.
Chris Erickson (28 hits, 19 RBIs), Isaac Mimong (27 hits, 19 RBIs) and Douty (24 walks, 28 runs) all have an on-base percentage of over .500. Falk leads the team with four triples and 21 RBIs, and another one of his three victories came during a 15-1 rout of Dickinson -- tomorrow's opponent -- at Jack Brown Stadium on June 28.
Jamestown swept its doubleheader with Dickinson, also winning 10-0.
"Just go compete," Falk said. "I don't know who's on the mound yet, but whoever it is we'll go fill it up, play defense and get some runs for him."
Joseph is expecting to see Post 14 on top of its game this week in Minot.
"After we got done with the wins in Minot we had a little bit of a celebration ... now it's 0-0," Joseph said. "The records go back to no wins, no losses and anybody can beat anybody, so you've got to go in with the mentality of we're gonna play the best."
N.D. American Legion Baseball
Class A West Division Tournament
Game 1: (1 ) Jamestown vs. (8) Dickinson, 11 a.m.
Game 2: (4) Bismarck Caps vs. (5) Mandan.
Game 3: (3) Bismarck Reps vs. (6) Beulah, 4:30 p.m.
Game 4: (2) Minot vs. (7) Watford City.
Game 5: Loser G1 vs. Loser G2, 11 a.m.
Game 6: Loser G3 vs. Loser G4.
Game 7: Winner G1 vs. Winner G2, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8: Winner G3 vs. Winner G4.
Game 9: Winner G5 vs. Loser G8, 11 a.m.
Game 10: Winner G6 vs. Loser G7.
Game 11: Winner G7 vs. Winner G8, 4:30 p.m.
Game 12: Winner G9 vs. Winner G10.
Game 13: Winner G12 vs. Loser G11, 11 a.m.
Game 14: Winner G11 vs. Winner G13, championship.
If necessary: Winner G14 vs. Loser G14, 1 p.m.