Ben Williams, a Hayden High School senior who plays for Moffat County High School, throws a pitch against Battle Mountain High School on Tuesday at Craig Middle School. Williams and fellow Tigers Graig Medvesk and Mark Doolin drive to Craig each weekday to play with the Bulldogs varsity team.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Ben Williams, a Hayden High School senior who plays for Moffat County High School, throws a pitch against Battle Mountain High School on Tuesday at Craig Middle School. Williams and fellow Tigers Graig Medvesk and Mark Doolin drive to Craig each weekday to play with the Bulldogs varsity team.

Hayden athletes provide boost to Moffat County baseball team

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Mark Doolin

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Graig Medvesk

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Ben Williams

— In November 2010, Hayden High School took to the basketball court for an exhibition game against the Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team.

Led by seniors Graig Medvesk and Ben Williams, and with help from sophomore Mark Doolin, the Class 2A Tigers beat the Bulldogs.

“We are a smaller school, but we beat them in a scrimmage,” Williams said with a smile. “They have some good athletes, but it felt good to get the best of them in basketball.”

Four months later, Medvesk, Williams and Doolin travel the roughly 15 miles from Hayden to Craig every weekday after school to be a part of the MCHS boys varsity baseball team.

The main reason, Doolin said, is because of the more advanced baseball program in Craig.

“The Moffat County team is better than the Hayden baseball team,” he said. “Hayden just has junior varsity because we don’t have enough kids interested to have a varsity squad.”

MCHS senior Dylon Camilletti, a leader of the Bulldogs basketball team and a key component for the baseball team, said no matter what happened in basketball, the baseball team is happy to have the three Hayden players.

“We don’t give them much grief for playing with us,” he said. “We joke with them every now and then, but we are glad to have them.”

Williams, a starting pitcher for the Bulldogs, has played on the MCHS team all four years, while Doolin, also a starting pitcher, has played the two years he has been eligible.

Medvesk, meanwhile, is playing his first year of high school baseball as a senior after playing when he was in elementary school.

For him to return to the diamond, Medvesk made a deal with Williams.

“I told Ben if he played football, I would play baseball,” Medvesk said. “We needed him on the football team and he said they could use me on the baseball team.”

Williams said after playing football and basketball with Medvesk over the years, he knew what he could bring to the baseball team.

“Graig is fast, and I knew we could definitely use his speed on the baseball team,” Williams said. “His speed is great to have in the infield, and it has helped us so far this year.”

Williams played football his freshman and sophomore year, but he took his junior year off to concentrate on baseball.

“I decided my junior year that I wanted to play fall baseball in Denver, so I gave up football for a year,” he said. “I wanted to get looks at good players and just get better individually.”

Medvesk, who currently plays second base for the Bulldogs, said his decision to not play baseball was because of the tempo of the game.

“I got tired of the slow pace of the game in comparison to basketball and football,” he said. “But, it came back pretty fast and it didn’t take long to get used to the game again and enjoy it.”

As the only three players from Hayden to play on the MCHS baseball team, it only seems fitting, Doolin said, that all three players started together on a Craig little league team.

“I have been playing baseball since before I was 10 years old, but I also played T-ball,” he said. “I started in summer leagues and I played on the (little league) team with Ben and Graig back then.”

The little league team also included Camilletti, MCHS senior Kulen Turner and MCHS sophomore Bubba Ivers.

Camilletti said he wasn’t surprised when the three Hayden players decided to come play on the MCHS team.

“I have played with all three of them, but especially Ben and Graig, since we were young,” Camilletti said. “We’ve always played together well and as a team and we just got along.”

For Williams, he said the deep-rooted friendships helped to make the decision easy four years ago.

“I’ve played with Kulen, Dylon and Bubba since I started playing ball,” he said. “I have known them forever and grown up playing on the same team with them.”

MCHS coach Justin Folley said Williams, Medvesk and Doolin each bring something different to the team.

“I started coaching Ben when I was an assistant his sophomore year and I have not only seen him grow as a ball player, but also as a person,” he said. “He has improved in every aspect of the game, but he has also grown into an 18-year-old man who has taken control of the leadership role on the team.”

Folley said Medvesk shows leadership as well, but in a different way.

“Graig shows leadership with the team through his work ethic,” he said. “He isn’t really vocal, but he is friends with Ben and some of the guys on the team, so he has stepped back into the sport and done a good job for us.”

Doolin still has two years left, Folley said, but the team is happy to have him as a young player.

“As a freshman last year, I wasn’t so sure about Mark,” Folley said. “He has the same mentality no matter the situation. I could ask him if he was ready to go and he would say, ‘Sure, why not.” Then, he could be in a tight situation on the mound and he would be, ‘OK, I’m ready to go.’

“Everyone likes him and he has grown, and I hope to keep him on the team for another two years.”

In Hayden, Williams said his high school classmates have a similar reaction as the MCHS kids — they are OK with the decision to play baseball in Craig.

“Kids in Hayden joke around with us, but there isn’t really any problems,” he said. “I think people know we just want to play ball and we have friends here.”

Folley said the Hayden trio gives the MCHS players something “different.”

“I think having them come over gives them and the Craig guys a different view of things,” Folley said. “They really don’t see each other all year in sports until baseball season, so it is nice to have a different perspective from outside of the town.”

Coming to Craig has its extra benefits, as well, for the Hayden players.

“It’s nice to get out of Hayden every so often,” Williams said. “It’s a small town.”

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