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PHOTO GALLERY: PLAYERS GRATEFUL FOR BASEBALL TOURNEY

Ed Diller

Renegades Host Day 2 Of Bottom Of The 9th Event

By Jack Weinberger
Special to HVSR

FISHKILL – Three months later than usual, baseball is finally back.

And not just at the professional level.

High school athletes in all sports lost their spring season when the coronavirus pandemic forced schools into remote learning and eliminated all extracurricular activities. High school senior athletes who have missed out on their senior seasons have had it as tough as anyone throughout this entire trying time.

“I cried,” Xavier Pietri, an infielder for Somers High School, said Wednesday when asked about not having a senior year.

Somers is one of six participants in the Hudson Valley Renegades-sponsored ‘Bottom Of The 9th Tournament’ at Dutchess Stadium. It’s a last chance for players who missed the spring season, especially seniors, to suit up with their former teammates.

“I really appreciate the fact they put this all together for us,” said Goshen High School player Aiden Quinn.

The tournament will conclude next week with a three-game championship series on August 6.

While winning is certainly the top priority when it comes to any sort of competitive event, you can bet that these kids were here for a lot more than just that.

“It’s great, just getting this opportunity to play one last time with my friends,” said Somers’ Connor Westerman. “It’s a little more relaxed for sure, but still plenty competitive as well.”

The tournament was spearheaded by Steve Gliner, the president of the Renegades. Gliner got the idea of a tournament from New Jersey, which is currently holding an event known as “The Last Dance Tournament.”

“I saw that and thought it could be a good idea to have one here in New York,” said Gliner. “We sent out emails to some contacts we have and we started posting all over social media.”

Gliner noted that New York is a lot less lenient when it comes to rules and regulations about who can coach, and if you can represent your high school team, etc.

“We don’t have as many teams competing as New Jersey and I obviously would have liked more,” said Gliner. “But the teams who came out seem to be having a great time, and that was my goal.”

A good handful of players are moving on to play some level of college ball, but for a lot of them, this tournament was one final time to lace them up. Joe Shatz, a player for Goshen, who committed to further his playing career at Alfred State, knows what it’s like to play alongside your lifelong pals.

“I’ve been playing in a summer league, but this is different,” he said. “Playing with the guys I’ve been playing with since Little League, growing up together playing ball. It’s not the end we asked for but we’re appreciative of what we have by getting to play together again here at this tournament.”

There is not one player out there who doesn’t wish he could have had his senior season, but Chris Swee, the tournament coach for Somers, saw some potential good come out of a tough situation.

“They bonded a lot closer,” Swee said. “They would do everything together, they’d go to a field and hit, they’d go to someone’s pool. They were always together and became a lot closer. I don’t know if it would have been like that had they had their normal season.”

Said Somers player Thomas Perrise: “I’m just so glad to have the chance to get back on the field with my boys one last time together.”

Ed Diller was at the Stadium on Wednesday to get HVSR these fantastic photos from a hot morning.

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