PETOSKEY – Petoskey’s 2021 class of baseball players still has more entries ahead of them at Turcott Field.
More swings to make, more pitches to make and home plate celebrations to come.
But for the group of senior players in 2020, those final moments never arrived. Memories of a last season as a Northern baseball player were dashed by the pandemic COVID-19.
Needless to say, last spring was difficult for everyone in the Petoskey baseball community.
“2020 was the most challenging year I’ve had in 20 years training baseball,” said Petoskey coach Shawn Racignol.
On Friday night at Turcott Field, however, that 2020 class had a final moment of prominence, with seven members of the eight-player class being able to take the field one last time to launch the first ceremonial pitch before the start of a drink against Big Rapids.
Petoskey won a two-game sweep over visitor Big Rapids, although the highlight of the night came between games with the first pitch ceremony.
The seniors of Petoskey 2020, Jack Izzard, Gabe Whitmore, Timmy Lake, Brett Sobczak, Jacob Sobczak, Trevor Shuman and Grant Tripp came on the pitch to make a pitch for a player from the North. Nathaniel Eberly-Rodriguez was unable to attend.
The pitch was followed by smiles and hugs from Petoskey players and coaches, happy to have contributed to ending a baseball prep career that ended too soon.
It was a special moment for Racignol, who helped teach the game to everyone from a young age and remembers having to talk to the elderly last spring, when the 2020 season was officially canceled.
“When you grow up with these boys and see them developing in the game from the age of five to the Little League system and they are in all of our camps and clinics, you get to know them very well,” added Racignol. “Talking to each of them individually on the phone that week, when we learned that we wouldn’t have a season, came with a lot of tears, a lot of stories and a lot of training.
“Instead of training the baseball game, we focus on the next step in life and making a difference in the community that you will eventually become a part of. For our team, it was always about the relationship throughout the championships. Usually, when you have the first thing, the second thing comes very naturally. I am so proud of how these boys handled it. I am even more proud of what they are doing now in their lives. “
In action on the pitch, Petoskey scored a 4-3 win in game one over Big Rapids, then rolled after solid contact on the board and a jewel by Nolan Spadafore on the mound in game two for an 11-1 win. .
The Nordics never lost on their debut, although they were tied 3-3 in the middle, as five mistakes on the field kept Cardinal’s runners in play and allowed races to hit the table. All three executions of Big Rapids were unsuccessful.
The Nordics finally took the lead at the bottom of the fourth and Owen DeGroot took down the Big Rapids bats there.
Grant Klepadlo won the start and hit three and two thirds with three strokes and three strokes, while eliminating three. DeGroot won after two and a third rounds, eliminating three hitters.
Parker Shuman finished 2 of 3 with a double and RBI on the board, Spadafore drove in two races and Ty Slater had the other single hit to Petoskey.
In the second game against Big Rapids, the Nordics recovered in the ceremony between games and got a 7-0 lead after a second inning of seven races.
Four different players collected extra base hits, led by a 3 in 4 game from Slater that came with a double, three RBIs, two scheduled runs and a stolen base.
Kolton Horn was 2-to-3 with a double and two RBIs, Stephen McGeehan doubled, chose and had an RBI, Klepadlo was 2-to-3 with two RBIs, Shuman doubled and Tate Dohm chose and drove in two races.
Jordan Troxel and Owen DeGroot chose each, with DeGroot scoring a pair and stealing a purse as well.
Spadafore passed all five innings on the hill, giving up three strokes and a walk, while hitting six. He needed only 72 shots to go the distance.
The Nordics improved to 16-3-1 overall in the season with wins and the next return to the Big North game with a trip to Cadillac on Tuesday, May 18th.
Petoskey will also receive in Rogers City for an out-of-league doubleheader on Thursday, May 20th.