Fans can breathe "pure" baseball at Todd Fields
Free admission, an ideal forecast and local ballclubs comprising half of the tournament field is an enticing combination few South Shore baseball fans can resist.
The 16th annual South Tahoe Senior Babe Ruth Baseball Fourth of July Invitational has all those things going for it when the three-day tournament begins Friday at Todd Fields.
“Nine-inning games, wooden bats only, no DH, no EH and no re-entry. It’s the way Abner Doubleday wrote it up … straight baseball,” said tournament director Gary Shidaker. “This is the first time most of these kids will play in a pure baseball game.”
From a local standpoint, Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. matchup between Don Amaral’s Sierra Tahoe Loggers and Doug Russell’s South Tahoe Stars is the tournament.
“That will be fun,” said Russell, who manages the South Tahoe High Vikings during the spring. “My players are excited, their grandparents are in town and there will be more fans than we’ll see all year long. It’s a party.”
Shidaker has helped with the tournament since its inception, but will see a first this weekend.
“It’s a historic deal here with it being the first time the head coaches of Whittell and South Tahoe both bring teams into the tournament with what you would call summer programs,” Shidaker said.
Russell has a staff of six pitchers to send to the mound, but the demand of three nine-inning games could deplete his arms quickly.
“I’m just hoping we have some pitching left (by Sunday),” Russell said.
A.J. Russo, Peter Maes, Alan McDermott, Kevin Woodman and Craig Spencer will all see duty on the bump. Woodman may also try to play for the South Tahoe Basketball Club in the South Tahoe Shootout Friday through Sunday at South Tahoe High School.
“He’s going to be a tired guy. We’ll try not to keep him up too late,” Russell said.
Russell’s Stars concluded a successful regular season Tuesday with a 9-7-1 record, while Amaral’s Loggers are getting an early start on their “fall” season.
“We’ve been practicing for three weeks at Todd Fields,” Amaral said. “We’ve been hitting it when everybody else isn’t there.”
The Loggers, a club of Whittell, Douglas and Dayton high school players, open against Belmont, a team from the Bay Area, on Friday at 3:45 p.m.
The South Tahoe Stars, who are made up of South Tahoe High players, will play at 7 p.m. against Daly City, Calif., in the four-team bracket.
Larry Pilgrim, who started the holiday tournament 16 years ago, will throw out the first pitch at 3:40 p.m. Friday.
Daly City and Belmont are in their customary pretournament favorite roles.
“Daly City and Belmont always bring quality baseball clubs that are very disciplined and very athletic,” Russell said. “We hope we can hang with them.
“They are playing in a city with a lot of people, and it’s fun to compare yourself with people outside the area because we had a very successful summer in our minds.”
Fourth of July Tournament
At Todd Fields
3:45 p.m. — Sierra Tahoe Loggers vs. Belmont
7:15 p.m. — South Tahoe Stars vs. Daly City
3:15 p.m. — Sierra Tahoe Loggers vs. Daly City
7 p.m. — Belmont vs. South Tahoe South Tahoe Stars
11 a.m. — Daly City vs. Belmont
1:30 p.m. — Sierra Tahoe Loggers vs. South Tahoe Stars
Note: Tournament champion will be determined by the best overall record after Sunday’s games. In case of a tie, the team with the lowest run differential in their defeat will be crowned the champion.
— Tribune sportswriter Darin Olde contributed to this story.