It didn’t make up for losing their senior season, but a couple of Highland High School graduates got a chance to play a few final baseball games.
Teammates Nick Barbagallo and Scott Marsh, along with New Paltz graduates Aidan Hoffman and Matt Thomas, teamed up with underclassmen to fill out the Highland Huskies’ baseball team at the Bottom of the 9th Seniors Last Swing Baseball Tournament at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls on July 28.
“It felt really good,” said Barbagallo, who plans to attend Marist University in the fall. “It doesn’t make up for a senior season with a lot of your friends that would have been on your team because this is some of the kids, but not entirely the same. But it feels good to at least get a chance to finally play.”
Each team was guaranteed to play three games each in pool play. The Huskies faced the New York Nighthawks, a travel team, and the Slate Hill Sluggers, which was made up mostly of Minisink Valley baseball players.
The Huskies opened the day with a loss to the Nighthawks and lost two straight games to the Sluggers.
“I never really dwell on that stuff,” Barbagallo said. “There’s only so much you can control. I can only control how I play. Baseball’s a team game. It was just fun to get a few games in with your friends.”
The tournament was hosted by the Hudson Valley Renegades, which was focused on giving graduating seniors and their teammates a chance to take the field together for the last time.
“With Minor League baseball announcing we will not be playing a season this summer, we felt the pain that these high school players have been feeling since March,” Renegades President and General Manager and Steve Gilner said. “We knew we needed to try something to give these athletes an opportunity to come together as a team, represent their community and have some fun.”
Teams were mostly comprised of graduating high school seniors and underclassmen to fill out the roster to resemble the high school teams as much as possible.
“It felt good,” Barbagallo said. “I really had to shake the rust off. It felt really good playing baseball for the last time, playing third and pitching. The adrenaline and blood were pumping and felt good.”
The Nighthawks won the Tuesday pool and Wednesday’s pool involved the Goshen Gladiators, the Cortlandt Panthers and Somers Tuskers.
“What better way to honor the senior players than for them to step into the batter’s box and see their picture on the video board, hear their name over the PA system and have their friends and family cheering them on,” Gilner said. “We hope that the communities, coaches and families can rally around this idea and make it a huge success.”