PISCATAWAY, NJ -- From July 14-31, the Last Dance World Series will take place throughout New Jersey giving high school baseball players that were forced to miss this past spring season due to COVID-19 an opportunity to play with one another to make up for it.
The 222-team tournament featuring plenty of high school talent across the state is being run by the United States Specialty Sports Association and is not technically a high school tournament or sanctioned by the NJSIAA. It is considered a youth tournament.
Teams are broken up into two big regions - North and South - and then placed at locations nearby geographically for pool play (Groups 1-16 A/B) and in mini brackets for the single-elimination games.
Piscataway High School, managed by Rob Stoddard, is set to play in the North Region in the Piscataway Regional (11A) at Columbus Park starting on July 14 against Ridge at 5:00 p.m. The Somerset Warriors (Franklin) and Diamond Warriors (Watchung Hills) will follow at about 7:30 p.m.
Recently graduated senior Thomas Stewart can’t wait to get going.
“I am so excited to finally be able to get out there and play with the guys. I’ve dreamt of playing my senior year since I watched my brothers play when I was younger,” Stewart said. “From a senior class standpoint, we have always felt we didn’t get as much attention being behind a senior class like we had last year, so we were eager to finally prove ourselves. We are obviously disappointed in the way the season unfolded, but playing with my teammates again that I’ve played with since I was a kid is even now more important to me.”
Organized by St. Joseph (Metuchen) head baseball coach and Athletic Director Mike Murray, the Last Dance will be the first athletic event held in the Garden State since March due to COVID-19 cancelling the NJSIAA spring season.
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After pool play, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 for the North and South Regions will take place on July 21 and July 22, respectively. The Final Four for each region will be held on July 28 and July 29. The overall final will be on July 31. All dates are subject to change due to weather.
The single-elimination rounds will be played at home stadiums of minor league clubs in the state including TD Bank Ballpark (Somerset Patriots), Skylands Park (Sussex County Miners), Yogi Berra Stadium (New Jersey Jackals), and FirstEnergy Park (Lakewood Blue Claws).
Arm & Hammer Stadium in Trenton, home of the New York Yankees’ Class AA affiliate the Trenton Thunder, will host the championship game.
For the tournament, there are a few different rules such as 11 batters can step up to the plate and there are unlimited defensive substitutions. There are also no pitch count or innings limits, and umpires will be located in different positions on the field.
Every player, coach, and umpire will have their temperatures taken upon arrival, and players and coaches have to wear masks in the dugout and keep their social distance as much as possible. Fans have been asked to arrive no more than 15 minutes before first-pitch and keep their distance down the lines.
The Chiefs’ uniforms were funded by former Piscataway star MLB player Eric Young, Jr., who spent 10 years in the big leagues.
“I’m just happy that the kids get to play the game I love,” Young said.
For the full pool play schedule, click here. TAPinto Piscataway will have you covered and updated on how the Chiefs fare in the tournament.
Piscataway Last Dance Roster
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.
TAPintoPiscataway.net is an online newspaper serving the Township of Piscataway.