The Dalles senior Michael Armstrong wants nothing more than to win.
He got a good taste of success this past football season, where the Riverhawks won seven games, advanced to the semifinals, and finished No. 10 in the 4A rankings.
With the solid core of seniors that were on the football squad, ready to sink their teeth into the baseball schedule, all things were trending upwards, until the Coronavirus derailed what could have been a promising 2020 season.
“My time at the high school has giving me the structure to be a competitor,” Armstrong said. “Through my first three years, we were always the team that people would run through and it gave me a chip on my shoulder to always work harder and strive to be the best. We were given that shot in football to show the state of Oregon how much we have grown, and I was hoping to follow that up with a baseball run, but unfortunately our season was ended by the Coronavirus.”
Armstrong received a scholarship to play baseball as a pitcher and outfielder for head coach Mark Magdaleno at Clark College in Vancouver, Wash. and he will gear his studies towards an Associates in Culinary Arts and then he’ll transfer to a four-year school to become a physical therapist.
“One of Coach Magdaleno’s main focuses is to prepare us for the real world and give us a shot at the next level,” Armstrong said. “In his four years there, he has the third most wins in program history and has sent over 40 kids to DI, DII and DIII schools, which is a dream of mine to continue playing after these two years at Clark.”
In 2018-2019, Clark College went 21-25 overall and 10-14 in league, and pitchers had a 5.82 earned run average with 271 runs allowed on 372 hits in 371 innings.
This past spring, the Penguins were on a historic pace at 7-0, as the pitchers allowed 23 runs on 39 hits in 59 innings and had a 3.05 earned run average, until the virus canceled action for the rest of the season.
“When I was able to meet the team, I could tell that they were a family, they all had one goal and that was to compete at their highest level and that’s all I want to do is compete,” Armstrong said.
In his junior year, Armstrong took his game to another gear and amassed a 5-6 record in a team-leading 17 starts on the mound with eight quality starts.
Across his 44 2/3 innings, the right-hander allowed 34 runs, 20 earned, on 33 hits with a team-high 49 strikeouts and 48 walks.
Opponents managed a .199 batting average, and Armstrong made just two errors from his pitching and right field positions (.929).
Last April 19, Armstrong notched six strikeouts on 60 pitches in a 16-0 mercy-ruled perfect game victory against Ridgeview.
TD head coach Steve Sugg had a chance to see the 6-foot-2-inch, 195-pound fireballer put up some solid numbers on the mound.
“Mike is a big, strong kid with a big, strong arm,” Sugg said. “In college, you are going to play baseball year-round, so he will get bigger, faster and stronger, and I think he’ll throw the ball even harder. The thing with Mikey is he needs to get more consistent with his fundamentals and his delivery. I think at the next level, when he’s working on that stuff, year-round, I think he definitely has the ability to flourish.”
Since he was a young man, Carrie Armstrong, Michael’s mother, and Michael Sr., knew that their son had an immense love for the game.
Whether it was in Little League or The Dalles Sluggers programs, coach Joe Abbas and Jeff Mathisen showed the players heart and dedication, and both Sugg and Mark Stathas have been invaluable teaching assets at the high school level.
“We are beyond proud of Michael for all of his hard work and dedication to his passion for baseball,” Carrie said. “He has always dreamed of playing at the next level, he never gave up, and with the support of everyone around him, from his teammates to the endless support of his family, his dream has come true.”