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Dunn competes among best in Cape Cod Baseball League

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By Jason Wesseldyk

Sports Editor

When it comes to collegiate summer baseball leagues, none can match the history or tradition of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Established in 1885, the 10-team Cape League boasted more than 300 of its alumni on Major League rosters in 2017 and is partially funded by the MLB.

And the crop of individuals to participate in the Cape League this season included a player with local roots.

Blake Dunn, a 2017 Saugatuck High School graduate, served as an outfielder for the Falmouth Commodores.

Getting the opportunity to play in the Cape League was a special experience for Dunn.

“The talent there was just really good,” said Dunn, who has started in right field at Western Michigan University the past two seasons. “You had guys from all over the country. Big schools. Small schools. It didn’t matter. It was the best guys out there being able to play against each other, which was so awesome.”

After playing last summer or the Muskegon Clippers of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, Dunn felt he was ready to step up to the challenge offered by the Cape League. To do that, he first had to find a team that had a spot for him.

Fortunately, he had some help in the form of Western Michigan University coach Billy Gernon.

“The process for me (getting on a team in the Cape League) was trying to find a team that would take me,” Dunn said. “It’s sometimes hard to place outfielders because there are so many of them. But eventually Coach Gernon ended up being able to find me a spot on the Falmouth team.”

Dunn came to the Cape League following an outstanding campaign with Western Michigan.

Utilizing a combination of speed and power, Dunn hit .374 with five home runs, 29 RBI, 43 runs and 30 stolen bases in 49 games.

Playing in the Cape League afforded him the opportunity to face a higher caliber of pitching on a more consistent basis.

“Facing that pitching everyday was the best thing about the league,” Dunn said. “They’re good pitchers and I think it made me better as a player facing those kinds of arms day in and day out.”

Dunn hit .229 with two home runs, 15 runs (fourth on the team), 18 RBI (fourth on the team) and 14 stolen bases (second on the team) with Falmouth in 131 at-bats during the regular season. He also drew a team-best 22 walks.

While those numbers didn’t quite match what he was able to do at Western Michigan, Dunn knows his experience in the Cape League was invaluable.

“It just reminded me how humbling the sport of baseball is,” Dunn said. “You can never get to high or too low because playing that kind of competition, there is going to be failure that you are going to go through. You just have to be able to deal with it and come back the next day ready to get better.”

In addition to helping Dunn continue his development as a player, the experience of playing in the Cape League also allowed him to meet new people in the game.

“The biggest memory for me was just being able to be a part of such a fun, great group of guys and coaches,” Dunn said. “They were all awesome and made it such a fun summer and incredible experience.”

With the summer season now in his rearview mirror, Dunn has turned his attention to his upcoming junior campaign with Western Michigan.

“My goal for this coming year is to do anything I can to help our team win as many games as possible and find a way to get us back to the MAC tournament,” Dunn said. “I haven’t been able to go there yet and I know I, as well as the rest of the guys on the team, am not happy with not making the tournament.

“That is definitely going to be our biggest goal this year, trying to win a MAC championship.”