Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Monday, 01 April 2013 07:49
PERRYSBURG - Nick Walsh nearly caught a popup to the third-base side of home plate.
|A view of Jim Leyland Family Field. (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
Kyle Durham scored on a wild pitch.
Coaches and players easily communicated, instead of screaming at each other as they competed with the noise from traffic on Interstate-75.
And only three baseballs were needed in the game.
Perrysburg's baseball team finally stepped into the modern era Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets opened Jim Leyland Family Field with an 11-2 victory Saturday over Lake.
The facility is located at the high school on the corner of Roachton Road and Fort Meigs Road.
The Yellow Jackets previously played at the old high school, which currently houses Perrysburg Junior High on East South Boundary, next to I-75.
"It's been a lifelong dream to have a facility like this and I'm just glad the community saw fit to vote to let us have it, and Mr. Leyland and Burke (Badenhop) donated money," said Perrysburg coach Dave Hall, who is in his 28th season.
Leyland, a Perrysburg native and the manager of the Detroit Tigers, and his family donated $100,000 for the project, Badenhop, a Perrysburg graduate who pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers, also contributed to the project.
"It's something the kids have needed for a long time here," Hall said. "It's just nice. The kids were pumped up to play. It's nice to be out here. We've been waiting a long time for this."
Durham hustled home on a wild pitch with Perrysburg's final run in the sixth, something that probably wouldn't have happened at the old facility.
At the old facility, the backstop was so close to home plate, the umpire and catcher could almost reach out behind them and touch the fence.
Walsh, Lake's catcher, nearly made a terrific catch in the second inning on a popup in foul territory. There was little foul territory around home plate at the old field, the result of the backstop being so close and Perrysburg's third-base dugout within an arm's length of home plate. Now, the backstop is 60 feet from home plate.
"This is the way baseball was meant to be played," Hall said.
The field has a brick backstop with netting, similar to the one at many other high schools in the area. The fences are covered with a dark screen.
"It's a beautiful facility," said Lake coach Greg Wilker, who is in his 29th season. "They deserve that here. The kind of program (Dave Hall) has here, they deserve a facility like this."
The facility is pitcher friendly, 330 down the left- and right-field lines, 365 to the left- and right-center, and 380 to center. Although Hall said the area in foul territory down both lines is the same, there is more area in foul territory around home plate.
And at the old park, there was a screen over home plate on the backstop to reduce the number of foul balls that would go onto to I-75. The school also recently put an extension on the backstop to reduce the number of balls that landed on I-75.
At the old field, 8-10 balls were used each game.
"You can tell I'm an old pitcher," Hall said. "I didn't want a home run park. I didn't want a popup to be a home run. It's going to take a little bit to get the ball out of here. We've always been blessed with three fast outfielders and that was part of it, too."
The Yellow Jackets practiced on the field for the first time Friday.
"Everything is great," said Mark Delas, who was 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. "We've been looking forward to it while we were practicing indoors. We were ready to get out here and play the game, and represent Perrysburg in a positive way."
Delas crushed an RBI double to the fence in left to score Austin Lee, who was hit by a pitch, to open the scoring in the first. The powerfully-built 6-foot-2, 230-pound Delas probably would have had a home run at the old field.
"It's a bit big," Delas joked about the field. "You really have to hit the ball hard to get it out of here."
In addition, new restrictions on the bats have reduced the amount of carry on the ball when it is it.
The field also has a press box, batting cages and an inning-by-inning scoreboard. Hall said a dark hitting background will be added in center field.
Still to be completed is the landscaping outside the facility once the season is over.
The Yellow Jacket softball team also has a new home at the high school. Its field is beyond the right-field fence.
There also are plans to build a track beyond the field's center-field fence. A concession stand and bathrooms also will be built between the three facilities. The track currently is located at Steinecker Stadium, which also houses a turf field for football and soccer, at the junior high.
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 08:24