SUFFOLK COUNTY

Seniors get last chance to play high school baseball in town tourney

Randall Waszynski
Posted 7/16/20

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing that low- and moderate-risk youth sports had the green light to return beginning July 6, the Town of Brookhaven organized a tournament for teams across Suffolk …

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SUFFOLK COUNTY

Seniors get last chance to play high school baseball in town tourney

Posted

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing that low- and moderate-risk youth sports had the green light to return beginning July 6, the Town of Brookhaven organized a tournament for teams across Suffolk County, the 2020 Varsity Wood Bat Tournament. Patchogue-Medford coach Tony Frascogna served as a primary organizer of the tournament and said this was mainly set up for the high school seniors with the desire to play with their teammates in their community one last time before heading off to college.

“It was good to get everyone out and playing,” said Frascogna, who made note that the tournament is not affiliated with the school districts, but that teams were assembled based on location. “[Pat-Med has] five guys that would be graduating.”

Pat-Med players, including seniors, spoke of the excitement they felt when they were informed that a tournament was being planned later. Anthony Osborne, the team’s shortstop and a senior, said he was ecstatic to hear he would be playing in a tournament in a few short weeks.

“There is nothing I would rather do than get on the field with my brothers and play for Coach Frascogna and Coach [John] Fren one last time!” said Osborne, who will be heading to Alfred State College in the fall.

Luke Gruber, another Pat-Med senior and a pitcher, thanked those who organized the tournament.

“Since we missed out on our senior season, this tournament [gave] us the ‘school ball’ feeling,” said Gruber, who will attend Farmingdale State College in the upcoming semester.

Not only players, but parents are hap- py to see baseball back in time for their kids to play with their teammates in the tournament. Lisa Gruber, Luke’s mother, expressed gratitude for the tournament for the seniors’ sake. “It is heartwarming to watch them play together again,” she said.

Frascogna said he contacted the varsity coaches from around Suffolk County roughly one month before the tournament inviting their teams to participate. He added that the reopening phases served as a guide to scheduling the tournament several weeks in advance, especially since the Long Island region did not experience any delays or setbacks from the two-week phase advancements all the way to the final phase of reopening.

The tournament began on Wednesday, July 8, the first day of Phase 4 in the region. The four-game regular season had games scheduled Wednesday through Sat- urday with the four playoff games being played on Sunday. Friday’s rain pushed the schedule back one day, wrapping up the tournament on Monday night instead. All games were played on Town of Brookhaven fields.

With the help of the town’s baseball director Sal Mignano and others, Frascogna managed to form a 36-team tourna- ment with round-robin groups to determine which teams make the playoffs.

“We are thrilled at how well things have gone so far. Everything has exceeded our expectations.”

Teams have been following health and safety precautions disseminated by the state, considering the necessity to disinfect shared equipment as well as maintain social distance. Low-risk youth sports like baseball, of course, do involve situations in which six feet of social distance is not possible.

For health and safety purposes, bleachers are designated for players only. Spectators are prohibited from behind the infield. In other words, they must watch from the opposite side of third and first base as well as behind the fence in home run territory. Spectators, coaches, and umpires are required to wear face coverings.

Any shared equipment, particularly bats, are to be sanitized between each use. Sharing is to be limited as much as possible.

Also, instead of being situated behind home plate, umpires have been calling balls and strikes from behind the pitcher in order to limit the crowding near home plate, considering the batter and catcher.

Considering that summer leagues are now starting off, Frascogna expressed that the tournament served as an experiment in terms of the activity’s health and safety for players, coaches, umpires, and specta- tors.

“It was a dry run to see if we can do it,” he added.

Also worth noting is an announcement by Little League International that indicates that states with clearance to move forward with low-risk youth sports can now hit the field and start playing games.

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