June 21, 2018
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Rain alters SLWS tournament schedule

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

BANGOR — It was a trying day at Mansfield Stadium for Senior League World Series tournament director Mike Brooker and Ron St. Pierre, the head of the grounds crew.

Persistent rain forced the 10 a.m. game between U.S. East champion Talbot County, Md., and U.S. Southwest titlist Tyler, Texas, to be pushed back to 12:15 p.m. and then, after the two teams played four innings in the rain, the game was suspended until 6:30 p.m.

The game between defending champs and Latin American winner Aruba and U.S. Central champ Midland, Mich. was bumped back to an 8 p.m. start.

The Aruba-Midland game had been originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. start and was to be followed by a 5 p.m. game between Europe-Middle East-Africa winner Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, and Canadian titlist Montreal and an 8 p.m. contest between Asia-Pacific victor Tanauan City, Philippines, and U.S. West champion Hilo, Hawaii.

To fit in the two games that couldn’t be played Tuesday, Brooker scheduled five-game days Wednesday and Thursday instead of four-game days.

The games will start at 9 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday instead of 10 a.m.

Brooker made a concession to the Italians so they could attend Wednesday’s 1:35 p.m. game between Tampa Bay and Boston at Fenway Park. They were originally scheduled to have Wednesday off.

Instead of having to play the 9 a.m. game Wednesday against Montreal, Brooker pushed their game back to Thursday at 9 a.m.

The Italians will play twice on Thursday as they will also play Talbot County, Md., at 8 p.m. to conclude pool play.

Friuli Venezia Giulia coach Marcello Massa explained that he became acquainted with Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who used to pitch near their town in Italy, and Hickey had obtained tickets to Wednesday’s game for the team.

Massa also said they were going to get the opportunity to meet the Rays players.

The Italian coach was elated with the adjusted schedule.

“This is great for the boys,” said Massa.

Massa said he would have understood if Brooker hadn’t re-arranged the schedule.

“We’re here for the tournament first and vacation second,” said Massa.

Brooker said his re-arranging of the schedule was based on enabling the Italians to attend the Rays-Red Sox game “and making sure none of the teams had to play back-to-back games.”

Wednesday’s schedule begins with a 9 a.m. game between Hilo and the Philippines followed by games between U.S. Southeast winner Palm Bay, Fla., and Aruba along with Midland, Mich., against the Philippines. Maine District 3 champ Brewer will play Talbot County, Md., at 5 and Montreal will take on Tyler, Texas, at 8.

The Thursday opener between Montreal and Italy will be followed by the Hilo-Michigan matchup, the Philippines-Palm Bay game, the 5 p.m. contest between Brewer and Tyler, Texas, and the Italy-Talbot County game.

The semifinals are Friday at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and the championship game will be Saturday at 2.

St. Pierre said the crew put two tons of Turface on the field before Tuesday’s games. It rained .75 of an inch overnight on Monday, he said.

“We had put three tons on it on Saturday,” said St. Pierre. “And we’ve ordered four more tons for an insurance policy.”

Turface is a special dirt substance that is put on the infield, the mound and the home plate area in order to absorb excess water.

St. Pierre said it is an exceptional product and is very effective.

The Turface used on the field is red, but there is other Turface that is brown and is used to dry the baseballs so they can continue to use them.

“If you used the red Turface, it would stain the ball,” explained Jim Owens, who works with St. Pierre on the field. “The brown Turface doesn’t stain it.”

St. Pierre and Brooker decided against putting the tarp on the field Monday night because, according to St. Pierre, they weren’t sure they would need it.

“If it had only rained a quarter of an inch, we wouldn’t have needed it,” said St. Pierre. “If we had put it on and it hadn’t rained, we would have had to get at least 20 volunteers to take it off early (before the 10 a.m. game). That might have been hard to do.”

Brooker pointed out that if it hadn’t rained and the sun had come out, the tarp acts as a heat conductor and would have “killed the grass.”

Since they got close to an inch of rain, St. Pierre speculated that they might have been better off putting the tarp on the field.

“It would have saved us over $1,200,” said St. Pierre, noting that a ton of Turface costs more than $600.

The one area of concern was the slippery outfield grass, particularly a 5- to 10-foot stretch of grass right behind the infield that the water from the infield drains into.

“We used to have a lip there, but we took it out,” said St. Pierre.

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