FLEMINGTON, NJ — Chris Rinaldi and Steve Barmakian have been playing travel baseball since the fourth grade and played on the same team since seventh grade. Before the longtime friends head their separate ways for college this fall, they played one more game as teammates Tuesday night, when they represented Westfield High School in the NJSBCA Senior Baseball All-Star Game at Diamond Nation.
Both were members of the Northwest team comprised of players from Union, Essex, Morris and Warren counties. In total, 100 seniors throughout the state were selected for the game. Barmakian and Rinaldi were two of seven from Union County.
“This is special,” Rinaldi said. “Being with Steve, being with everyone I've played with for a long time and just to be able to go out like this in such a competitive environment and a friendly environment, too. It was cool to end it like this, surrounded by great players and great coaches, too.”
“It’s an awesome opportunity to play with these guys,” Barmakian said. “This is where a lot the talent is in New Jersey baseball. It’s really incredible to be on the field with these guys and Chris and everyone. It was really cool.”
On the field, the Northwest team dropped a 16-5 decision to the Central squad comprised of players from Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset, Hunterdon and Mercer counties, but the final score proved secondary to the opportunity to play with former rivals and reminisce about past experiences.
“It’s a cool feeling,” Rinaldi said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience because we never really played with them before and won’t after this. It’s definitely something I’ll remember for a long time.”
“It was cool talking about old games and old events when they were on the other side of the field talking about past games, past memories,” Barmakian said.
Barmakian, who will be continuing his career at George Washington, went 1-for-3. Rinaldi, who will play at Holy Cross, was hitless in the game.
“I think I could have done a lot better,” Rinaldi said. “I made a few mistakes in the field, but overall it was just fun. I guess you can’t dwell on it since it’s a big event to have fun.”
Both Rinaldi and Barmakian were two year starters at Westfield and key contributors in this spring’s 22-6 season. Barmakian hit .322 with 27 runs, a team-best 24 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.
Rinaldi hit .357 with 24 runs, 20 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
“The season didn't end the way we wanted it to,” Barmakian said, “but it was nice to get a little break, come back and play one more game wearing the Westfield jersey and go out in a way that's better than the way we went out in the high school season.”