Pirates summer GHVBL champs age out of PCYBL, move from little fields to big fields as new U team
September 13, 2023 at 11:35 p.m.
The Port Chester 12U Pirates celebrate after winning their final game of the playoffs qualifying them as the 2023 Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League champions in their age group in August. Many of these players and coaches are now on a 13U Pirates fall baseball team in the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League. Front row, from left: Brandon McConnell, Joey Szygiel, Tyler Hastings, JJ Dileo, Carter Chan, Ty Frimere, Joey Bologna, John Halliday. Back row, from left: Brian McConnell (coach), James Doherty, Evin Eski, Sophia Faraci, Terell Iconic (coach), Jonathan Smith, Jorge Herrera, Jim Doherty (coach).
(File Photo/Westmore News)
It's a whole new ball game for some of Port Chester's best age group baseball players caught between the tweens and the teens and already old before their time.
Just yesterday, or so it seems, they were the 12U Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League (GHVBL) champions as the Port Chester Youth Baseball League (PCYBL) Pirates during the past season. And the next day, or more accurately, just this past summer, they had aged out of the PCYBL where the age limit is 12.
So the question is what comes next when you are too old for Little League baseball and not quite old enough to break into the Port Chester Rams varsity lineup.
Rite of passage
The answer is playing out now on local fields where the old 12U Pirates are continuing to come of baseball age as the new 13U Pirates playing their first GHVBL fall season.
That rite of passage brings a new set of baseball problems because size matters at this stage and age. Because of the growing pains that come from moving up from what the kids call the little field to the big field.
What that means is that youth baseball has different field dimensions than the regulation sized larger MLB (Major League Baseball) diamonds.
In the Little Leagues, for example, the bases are 60 feet apart and the pitcher's mound is 45 feet from home plate. But in the big boys’ league, once the kids age out of the Little League at 12, the dimensions change to the MLB 60/90 where the pitcher's mound is 60 feet six inches from home plate and the bases are 90 feet apart.
The growing pains
That takes some getting used to as the kids move up in age group class.
"There were some growing pains moving to a much larger baseball field," according to Brian McConnell, one of the coaches of the 13U Pirates.
Those "growing pains" didn't stop the Pirates from winning their fall season opening doubleheader against the TEB (Tuckahoe, Eastchester and Bronxville) Eagles this past Saturday (9/9) on their new home field at Rec Park.
But it wasn't easy because the pitchers had to find their groove throwing from a pitcher's mound that was farther away from home plate than they were used to. And that resulted in a lot of walks. But once they eventually found their rhythm and made the adjustment, the Pirates hurlers hit their stride, found their groove, and looked good. Ebby Carpenter and Brandon McConnell started throwing strikes and the Pirates won the first game 14-4. And Joey Bologna and Ty Frimere settled down in time to pitch the Pirates to win the second game 9-5.
Bloops, bunts, blasts
With a lot of walks leading to a lot of those runs, the batting highlights included bloop hits by Joe Szygiel and Evin Eski, bunt hits by the speedy James Doherty and line shots to left by Jay Dileo.
"Defensively, the Pirates adjusted to the new big field very well and acclimated to the changes in the game," said McConnell.
And the team keeps growing in baseball age and wisdom with every swing they take, every hit they make, every pitch they take, even as they learn to walk on the wild side during their transition from the little field to the big field.
Especially because the age group Pirates moving up to the new 13U class include some of Port Chester's best young players, a talented group that includes Tyler Hastings, John Halliday, Sophia Faraci, Carter Chan and Michael and Nicholas Ovsag.
Likes what he sees
As a coach, McConnell loves the way the Pirates are starting to come together as a team stepping up from the little fields to the big fields. And he thinks they are making all the adjustments very well indeed.
Their next home game is Saturday (9/16) at 10:30 a.m. against Yonkers. And the young 13U Pirates are already starting their teens looking like a better, older version of the tween 12U GHVBL summer league champions they very recently were before they aged out of the PCYBL. It may be a whole new ball game. But they are already proving to be fast learners.