A slow-moving front — nearly a tropical depression — has dumped immeasurable amounts of rain on the Delmarva Peninsula in the past week. And though folks in Western Sussex County have shouldered the brunt of the storm, others — including the American Legion baseball league — have felt at least a little of the pinch as well.
Sussex East’s Post 28 baseball team currently has four games to make-up, which includes a double-header and a June 27 game started against Fox Post 2.
The northward-moving front held west of Dover, releasing only patches of heavy rain. But in the end, the damage was done.
“If it hadn’t of rained we would’ve been fine,” Fox Post 2 head coach Zach Carter said. “The rain stopped shortly thereafter, but by that time, enough damage had been done to stop the game.”
Graduation conflicts and umpire shortages nixed Post 28’s opening-day double-header against Del Vets, while Mother Nature was responsible for the remainder of the cancellations.
They squeaked in a June 21 game with Georgetown’s Post 8, losing 8-5, before the rain fell, canceling three games in five days.
The league has allotted July 24-26 for make-up games prior to the start of the state tournament on June 29, leaving 18 games — including four double-headers — to be played in three weeks. That could be a problem for area players.
Most players try to manage their work schedule so that they can play baseball. But the recent rainfall will most likely cause some teams to play four or even five games over the next week or two, just to get the allotted games in.
“It’s going to be really tough to squeeze the rest of our games into such a small time. But that’s the nature of the beast,” Sussex West head coach Gary Waller said.
Sussex West also has four games to make up and, with standing water on the infield, they’re also left wondering when they can get back to playing baseball on their home field.
“It depends on what happens tonight,” Waller said on June 27. “The tropical depression is supposed to hit tonight and they’re calling for another 3 to 4 inches again. So we’ll just have to see.”
The double-headers are scheduled with upstate teams to maximize the drive for whoever travels, and eventually all the games will be played. But the real question is who will play.
“We’d be willing to play four games a week,” Sussex East head coach Jodi Sweetman said. “But the question is will all four pitchers be there? The weather has been a lot of trouble for the kids because they call to have off for the games only to get cancelled.”
“When they ask off and the game gets rained out, then the kids have to go back to their bosses and request off again. And that’s tough for the kids to do,” added Sussex East assistant coach Brendan Warner. “Most of the employers are great about it, but some kids have to work.”
As of June 28, Post 28 (4-3) has only played five games. Elsemere forfeited a June 12 double-header, which is good for the standings but bad for players.
During school-ball, players have a regimented routine — especially for pitchers. They practice every day and get the necessary work in, even after pitching the day before, just to keep them sharp. But legion baseball is a bit different, because they don’t have that same structure in place and not playing regularly definitely doesn’t help.
“They lose a little bit of sharpness,” Warner said. “And part of that is that they haven’t pitched enough to stay sharp.”
Colin Warner last pitched two innings at the Carpenter Cup on June 20, and Trevor Abbott went six days between starts (Georgetown and Fox Post 2).
Pitchers need to work, but that’s only a portion of the game. Hitters need to see live pitching, and the lack thereof has taken its toll.
Colin Warner struck out only twice all last season but has been fanned five times in as many games.
Though the season has gotten off to a slow start, it appeared the front would move off by the weekend, giving Post 28 a new beginning.
Post 28 will travel up to Brandywine High School for a double-header against R.C. DuPont and host Milford and Georgetown on July 4 and 6, respectively.
Their double-header against Del Vets has been rescheduled to July 9 at the old Indian River High School.
The Legion all-star game was cancelled due to rain and hadn’t been rescheduled as of Coastal Point press time.