FAIRFIELD — With a state title to defend, it’s nice knowing you’ll spend most of the season at home.
That’s the case for the Fairfield Expos American Legion baseball team, which announced its summer schedule this week.
With a May 15 season opener against junior legion affiliate TC-Legion, the Expos will attempt to defend the state championship they won last summer with a stellar late-season run.
After surging to the state crown, the Expos came within one victory of reaching the American Legion World Series.
This summer the road, which includes a pair of trips to Oregon in June, could be even tougher as the Expos only host one postseason tournament, the District 5 championships, July 10-14.
After that the Area 1 tournament is at Chico and the state tournament is in Yountville.
This year’s Region 8 championship, which Fairfield has hosted the last two seasons and three of the last four, is at Surprise, Ariz.
The World Series is once again at Shelby, N.C.
“Should be a pretty good experience for the kids,” said Expos manager Brad Hanson. “The two separate tournaments should be fun.”
Highlights on this summer’s schedule include those trips to Oregon, and only four other road games.
From June 13-16, the Expos are in a wood bat tournament in Salem, Oregon, hosted at Willamette University.
In Salem, Fairfield will get to see some serious competition.
Hanson said teams from Boise, Idaho, Seattle (third place in the 2012 World Series) and Portland will be there.
That follows a June 12 game at Roseburg. Following the tournament, the Expos make a stop in Medford to face the Medford Mustangs.
On the way home, the Expos are set to make their annual pilgrimage to the Rogue River for a 75-mile jet boat ride.
“The jet boat ride is always a highlight for the kids,” Hanson said. “We’ll go down the Rogue River through Hellgate Canyon . . . a ton of movies have been filmed there, ‘Gunsmoke,’ and ‘A River Runs through It.’ ”
After a few league games, the Expos head north again to Medford from June 27-30.
“The Medford tournament is at a real nice complex,” Hanson said. “It’s similar to our field, maybe not quite what we’ve got but pretty close.”
There the Expos get to see some new faces with a team from Las Vegas, the Aces, among others coming in.
The Aces, a combination of the two Las Vegas teams the Expos haven’t yet faced, also visit Laurel Creek Park for a July 2 doubleheader.
As for District 5 play, Hanson said he’s expecting some major challenges, especially from the Petaluma Leghorns, whom the Expos first face on June 20 at home.
“Petaluma is loaded again. I think they’re the team to beat again,” Hanson said. “I think they were the best team in state last year, but we beat them.”
Napa should also be tough, he added.
Ending the regular season, Fairfield is again set to host the Western Amateur Baseball Federation Championship from July 3-8.
After that the Expos host the District 5 tournament as they begin in earnest the defense of their state title.
“Hopefully we can repeat,” Hanson said. “Stranger things have happened.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.