Area high school senior baseball players may get one last chance to show off their skills.
Abram Escamilla, the Allen East baseball head coach, is looking to set up the Ohio Veterans Four County All-Star games, tentatively scheduled for June 5 -6 at a site yet to be determined.
Seniors from the area conferences will play in the event and the location of the game will be announced in later this month.
Even though there are a still a number of details to iron out, Escamilla sees a doubleheader on June 5 comprised of seniors of area conferences and the June 6 game will feature the PCL against the NWC.
Escamilla, who is working closely with Jeff Vance, is busy securing players and planning how the facilities will be set up while trying to adhere to mandatory guidelines set forth by the state.
The chance for a game came about after Gov. Mike DeWine lifted the ban on non-contact sports beginning May 26. Initially, Escamilla wanted to honor the seniors with a roster of the top seniors in the four-county area to make sure they were recognized.
But with the possibility of a game taking place, Escamilla, who put on Division III-IV North vs. South All-Star game last year, began contacting fellow coaches about putting on a game and got a great response.
“This year is a little different because none of the seniors got a chance to play,” Escamilla said. “I sent out a few texts to a couple of coaches and I said ‘how hard would it be to send two seniors’ and they said it would be really hard … and one said he had four to five that deserve to go.”
Upon hearing this, Escamilla decided to open it up to all seniors who wanted to participate and added that all nine Pandora-Gilboa seniors and all the Kalida seniors have committed.
One of the primary issues Escamilla faces is abiding by the guidelines set forth by the governor concerning baseball and softball.
“That is why I wanted to have a double header,” Escamilla said. “Because there could be up to 40 kids on each side and that is why I split the dates up for the two games and if I do end up with 40 on each side I can say hey you 20 are playing at 5 p.m. and then you 20 are playing at 7 p.m.’”
Escamilla added that this goes a long way to practicing social distancing by playing 10 in the dugout and 10 in the bullpen and allowing for as much room as possible.
“Once we know the location I am going to call to put benches down the fence line and in the outfield so we can keep ourselves separated,” Escamilla said. “We want to practice our social distancing that the governor wants us to do and obviously everyone can wear their masks while they are in the dug out.”
Escamilla reiterates that safety is their top concern when it comes to the players.
Players may also have to sign a waiver if they are going to participate.
Another item that will need to be worked on is spectators.
“As far as fans it is up to them,” Escamilla said. “They know what the rules are as far as social distancing. Last year it was ridiculous the amount of people we had out there and I thought about that too.”
Escamilla said last year’s game held at Ottawa Memorial Park was overflowing and it added to the great atmosphere of the game but he is concerned because he expects a number of spectators this year and it could be a logistical challenge.
“This is going to be there first time that anyone has played baseball this year, and I hope they come out but if they do come out they will have to practice their social distancing,” Escamilla said. “Once we get a for sure thing we are going to promote it and tell spectators you have to abide by these rules and if we have to we will tape off some of the grandstands or bleachers or whatever they are so they can only use part of them.”
Last year Escamilla put together an all-star game to honor the seniors because he felt there was a great need.
Escamilla said that both basketball and football had all-star events after their seasons and felt that baseball needed one and last year organized the first Division III and Division IV North vs. South All-Star game and it was highly successful.
“I had this idea two years ago, really three years ago to have an all-star game,” Escamilla said. “Basketball and football had the platform to do this and if they had theirs we should have ours.”
Escamilla emailed coaches and drew up a map and essentially split the four counties into 28 teams with 14 teams making up the north and the same number making up the south.
While gathering sponsors for this year’s game, the coronavirus hit and the plans for this year’s all-star game came to a grinding halt.
“It was kind of there just dead in the water.” Escamilla said. “I was just sitting at home one day and I said ‘you know what it would still be cool to put together a roster of all the area seniors in the four counties that participated in the all-star game last year.”
There was talk of doing an all-star game for softball seniors but that never materialized.
“Maybe next season when we can work on it more, we can organize something,” Escamilla said. “I would love to do something for them. It is what it is and we are moving forward with baseball,- and I am kind of excited to play.
Escamilla said this type of event is important because the numbers in baseball continue to dwindle and with the pandemic he as seen colleges eliminate baseball as a sport and would hate to see that happen at the high school level.
“To me baseball can’t take a year off because we are losing enough kids as it is,” Escamilla said. “Having not played baseball for a whole year could really damage our sport.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.