After a long and lonely spring, there is finally some baseball on the horizon with action in area leagues beginning this weekend.
Beginning in March, the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus put a halt to much of our lives – including sports and athletics.
Earlier this month, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont approved Phase 2 of the plan to reopen the state and it included outdoor events of up to 50 people. It includes rules about players providing their own equipment, water and chairs.
Games began on Thursday with the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association, which is hosting games for players ages 13-19. It was designed to be a one-year bridge to replace the American Legion baseball program which was cancelled in May.
Many of the players and teams that would have been involved in American Legion are playing in Connecticut Elite. Avon has two teams in the league at the U-19 and U-17 level. Simsbury has three teams at the U-19, U-17 and U-14 levels.
Avon’s U-17 will be the first Avon team to hit the diamond with a doubleheader at West Hartford on Saturday. Avon’s U-19 team opens their season on Sunday when they host Berlin in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at Buckingham Field.
Similar to American Legion, Avon will be in the same U-19 division with Simsbury, Berlin, Cheshire, Newington, Southington and West Hartford.
Several players from last summer’s American Legion team and players that would have played on Avon High’s team this spring are on the Avon U-19 roster including Max Raha, Jackson Jobe, Blaise Engle and Justin Hasler. Eric Welles, who coached the Legion team last summer, is leading the U-19 team.
In adult baseball, the two-time defending league champion Collinsville River Rats play their season-opening contest on Sunday at 10 a.m. at Bowdoin Field against the Kensington Cannons (Berlin).
The River Rats had a franchise record 20 wins last summer and won the Connecticut North Men’s Senior Baseball League championship in the 25-and-over division with a 2-0 sweep over the Newington Dodgers in the best-of-3 championship series.
Collinsville (20-9) won only two of their first six games but won 16 of their final 19 games. That included a 6-1 record in the league playoffs. Hurler Mike Giordano had a stellar year for the River Rats, including a complete game victory in the 1-0 win over Newington to win the title. Alejandro Gonzalez had six doubles and a triple in seven playoff games while Chris Fisher and Enrique Alvarado had key hits for Collinsville.
The league has two divisions – 25 and over and 35 and over. Ten members of the River Rats squad are over 40, including six over the age of 50. But with four players under the age of 30, the River Rats play with the youngsters.
The Tri-State Baseball League, which includes the Canton Crushers, chose not to play this summer due to COVID-19.
2020 CT Elite Baseball Avon U-19 schedule
June 28: BERLIN (2), 1 p.m.; 30: at Simsbury, 5 p.m.
July 1: CHESHIRE, 5:30 p.m.; 2: NEWINGTON, 5:30 p.m; 6: at Bristol, 5:30 p.m.; 8: at Meriden, 5:30 p.m.; 9: WEST HARTFORD, 5:30 p.m.; 12: SIMSBURY (2), 1 p.m.; 14: at Berlin, 6 p.m.; 15, BRISTOL, 5:30 p.m.; 16: vs. Meriden at Plainville HS, 7 p.m.; 19: at Cheshire (2), 1 p.m.; 21. At West Hartford, 5:30 p.m.; 23, BRISTOL at Muzzy Field, 5:30 p.m.; 24, WEST HARTFORD, 5:30 p.m; 26: at Newington (2), 3 p.m.; 28: at Meriden, 5:30 p.m.
2020 Collinsville River Rats schedule
June 28: KENSINGTON CANNONS (2), 10 a.m.
July 5: NEW HAVEN CARDINALS (2), 10 a.m.; 12: at Newington Dodgers (2), 10 a.m.; 19: SOUTHINGTON NAVIGATORS (2), 10 a.m.; 26: NEWINGTON (2), 10 a.m.
August 2: at Marlborough A’s (2), 10 a.m.; 9: NEW HAVEN at Mills Pond (2), 10 a.m.
Home games at Bowdoin Field unless otherwise noted