Twenty Wildcats and their coach, Chris Howard, serve on the tarp crew for the MLB Little League Classic 2018.

Big League Gig

BASEBALL TEAM TO STAFF INFIELD TARP FOR MAJOR LEAGUE GAME

by Matt Blymier, assistant director of athletics for compliance and athletics communication. Photos by Blymier

Published July 29, 2019

Wildcats lend a hand as the grounds crew waters the infield to keep dust down. From left: Remington Spoonhour, Barnyak and Devon Sanders.
Wildcats lend a hand as the grounds crew waters the infield to keep dust down. From left: Remington Spoonhour,  Brandon Barnyak and Devon Sanders.

When the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates square off Aug. 18 in the third annual MLB Little League Classic, there will be a few familiar faces at the nationally televised event. Some 20 Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball players, led by head coach Chris Howard, will be responsible for the field tarp in case of inclement weather at the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game.

The Wildcats have served in that capacity since the inaugural game in 2017.

The idea originated with Little League President and CEO Steve Keener. When asked by Major League Baseball if there were grounds crew members for the Little League World Series who could handle the tarp, Keener suggested to Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour, then chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors, that the college’s baseball team would be a good choice for the job.

And Howard and company were more than willing to help out.

“It’s going to be exciting to see major leaguers in our dugout on our home field,” Howard said of sharing the same field at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field with the Cubs and Pirates.

The team will go through several days of training prior to the big game. On the Thursday and Friday before the game, the team will have about 10 hours of practice moving and removing the tarp, while Saturday brings a 12-hour standby day in case of inclement weather. On game day, the team will arrive at 7 a.m. and help where needed around the park before the 7 p.m. start time.

“It’s going to be exciting to see major leaguers in our dugout on our home field.”

Wildcat baseball team members, along with head coach Howard, right, prepare to pull the tarp over the infield at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, which is transformed for a day into a Major League stadium. Standing, from left, are Brandon Barnyak, Cody Nelson, Trevor Dolin and Conner Curran. At bottom of frame is Joe Gaumer.
Wildcat baseball team members, along with head coach Chris Howard, right, prepare to pull the tarp over the infield at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, which is transformed for a day into a Major League stadium. Standing, from left, are Brandon Barnyak, Cody Nelson, Trevor Dolin and Conner Curran. At bottom of frame is Joe Gaumer.

“It’s a long four days of training in the hot August weather,” Howard said. “But the payoff is really rewarding, with some of the best seats in the house during the game.”

Getting volunteers from his team has never been hard for Howard. In 2017, Howard says, he never had a quicker response to a group text than he did when he asked his players to help with the event. Howard expects the same enthusiasm this year.

“Our guys are excited to see Major League players play on the same field that they do,” Howard explained. “It’s one of the coolest experiences they’ll have while they’re here.”

Sports Replay

Archery

Freshman Trevor Quarry placed third in men’s recurve at the USA Archery Outdoor National Championship.

In team events, Sidney Alpaugh, freshman Zach Williamson and junior David Fox reached the quarterfinals in men’s bowhunter.

Baseball

For the 12th time in Chris Howard’s 13 years as head coach, the Wildcats reached the postseason.

Four underclassmen were named to the NEAC all-conference team.

Golf

Penn College finished third in the NEAC Championship for the second-straight season and had three individuals among the top 10 in a 39-player field. Three players earned all-conference honors.

Senior Ned Baumbach and sophomore Brian Whelan tied for seventh place, while junior Austin Moscariello tied for 10th. 

Men’s Tennis

With three individual champions, two runners-up and the NEAC Rookie of the Year, it was a great finish for the Penn College men and first-year interim coach Jessica Bower.

Freshman Tucker Phillippe-Johansson was named the conference’s top rookie after he captured the No. 2 singles crown and then teamed with sophomore Will DeMarco for the No. 2 doubles title. DeMarco also was the No. 3 singles champion, and for their efforts, both were named to the all-conference first team. Two Wildcats earned second-team honors.

Softball

The Wildcats went 3-2 in the NEAC playoffs and earned the program’s first runner-up finish in the
North Eastern Athletic Conference.

Penn College closed its season with 24 wins – setting a new Penn College single-season win record.

Four Wildcats were named to the all-conference team.

Wrestling

A program-record four Penn College wrestlers placed in the top six at the NCAA Division III Southeast Regional tournament. Heavyweight Dylan Otis and 197-pounder Jared Mooney both placed fourth, while Dylan Gettys and Daniel Bergeron took sixth at 174 and 165, respectively.

The team finished at 12-16, the best in the college’s Division III Era.