Dirtbags from Ohio are first Outside team to secure spot in tournament series

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Dec 28, 2011

The stories about Alaska hooked Dirtbags baseball coach Neal Packanik of Ohio like a king salmon.

But unlike some fish story, the 2012 Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour promises to be the catch of a lifetime.

Dirtbags Baseball Post 795 of Strongsville, Ohio, is the first visiting team to secure its spot in this summer’s tournament series, opting to play in the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament in Wasilla followed by the Bill Miller Big Fish Tournament in Kenai.

The 2012 Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour also includes stops in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

This will be only the fifth season for the Dirtbags, yet they have already built a winning reputation in Northeast Ohio with 3 District titles in just 4 years.

“We have players from a few different high schools in the Cleveland area,” Packanik said. “This is the most senior dominated team that we have had with 11 2012 graduates; and two guys are coming off freshmen years playing at college.”

Promoting a trip to Alaska with parents wasn’t a hard sell.

“Off the field we expect the kids to enjoy an once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Packanik said. “Everyone has been working real hard since August to make this trip happen.”

The focus will be on the field, but c’mon man, this is The Last Frontier. There will be lots and lots of photo opportunities.

“I think the group is excited to see all of Alaska’s unique sights. I think our group would like to get out on the water and see some glaciers,” Packanik said. “I personally would like to see a bear.”