NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - Members of the West Essex baseball team are eagerly waiting for their opportunity to get back on the field as the group will participate in the “Last Dance” Tournament next week.
“We should be a team to look out for,” said West Essex head coach Tim Walsh.
The tournament will involve 222 teams throughout the state. The format is a round-robin style with every team guaranteed to play at least three contests.
“It really is a chance for them to get back onto the field and play together, it’s all for fun,” said Walsh.
The tournament itself represents more than just some of the state’s best playing America’s pastime. For those willing and able to attend along with those who play. it’s a chance to rekindle life prior to COVID-19.
“Just being out at practices and being out on the baseball field hitting ground balls and players fielding ground balls it’s starting to feel a little bit normal, but we don’t want to take anything for granted, and we want to be smart about it,” Walsh said.
While the normalcy of playing spring and or summer sports is cathartic the tournament’s leaders and officials are taking their precautions.
“Every player and coach has to get their temperature checked before even stepping onto the field,” said Walsh.
The West Essex squad will boast a roster consisting of seven seniors with varsity experience to their name. Joe Gagliano, Joey David, Noah Garcia, Mike Gemma, Carsen Mansfield, Vin Rubino and Henry Sanok make up the group. The group combines for 22 runs batted in and 15 runs scored last year for the varsity squad.
“They’ve been a great group over their whole high school career so it’ll be fun to see them end it together and get some laughs on the field,” said Walsh.
West Essex will be part of a division made up of four teams. Cedar Grove, Glen Ridge and rival Caldwell makeup the group from which the squad will look to advance. Each squad will have two divisional games and one crossover game with a team from the same “Region 10” that they’re bracketed with.
“It's baseball; any given day any team can go out and score 10 runs or get shut out, but our main goal is to get out and have three great games of a lot of fun,” said Walsh.
West Essex will take on Cedar Grove on Tuesday, July 14. The winner of the game will take on the winner of the Glen Ridge-Caldwell game.
“It’s a good chance for them all to get out and play together for one last time since they missed out on their senior season,” said Walsh.