Emery, S.D. (KELO) — The Dimock/Emery Raptors have played four games this season, including Tuesday night’s (May 26) contest against the Lennox Alpacas.
The game came down to the final play as Lennox’s Matt Bruns made a diving play in the 9th inning to give the Alpacas a narrow 6-5 win.
However, the two teams were least worried about the outcome.
“Win or lose, it doesn’t even matter right now because we are happy to play ball,” Dimock/Emery manager Brad Bartscher said.
“It was terrific, it’s been a tough time for the whole country right now, but I’m just so excited that we get to compete again,” Lennox pitcher Kramer Sneed said.
On May 12, the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association held a commissioners meeting where they came up with a plan to play baseball this season. That plan included a list of nine safety guidelines that all teams must follow.
The guidelines have been in place for more than three weeks, but that’s what each team will have to do, to get back to baseball.
“We’ve got to be preventative if we’re going to be safely trying to play baseball. I respect all of the rules changes and they are necessary for right now,” Sneed said. “Hopefully, one day we can get back to normalcy, so to speak, but for now anything it takes to play a game, I think we’re all in on that.”
The Raptors have played four games and they haven’t seen any alterations to the game itself.
“The rules have not affected the game at all and everyone is still playing (baseball) with it,” Bartscher said. “We’re being smart for safety and with the circumstances, the whole situation has been handled the best it could be.”
The return of baseball creates a sense of normalcy and excitement for both the players and the fans.
“The fans have been tremendous supporters. They’re thankful, just like we are, because they get to come out and watch and see some competitiveness, but they’re doing safety first and they’re being smart about it,” Bartscher said.
For Sneed, Tuesday’s game was his first game since May of 2018, which made getting on the field that much better.
“Competing is the biggest thing I missed about playing the game and getting back and competing with a group of guys and coming out with a victory was a lot of fun tonight,” Sneed said.
The SDABA advised that fans should practice social distancing and Bartscher says that hasn’t been an issue.
“I haven’t said one word to the fans, they’re just being smart and they stay spread out,” Bartscher said. “Even on our road games our fans and all fans have practiced social distancing.”
Amateur baseball will continue, but Major League Baseball (MLB) is still on hold. Sneed, a former minor league pitcher, says it’s all about player and fan safety.
“The difference between MLB and SD amateur baseball is fan interaction, more so than not. Sometimes fans in the minor leagues and the majors can be a little aggressive with players,” Sneed said. “To protect players, you would have to put in a lot of parameters and so that is why it’s different to play this (amateur baseball) versus the majors.”
Dimock/Emery will prepare for their next game on Thursday, May 28 as they will host the Plankinton Bankers.
The Raptors are off to a 1-3 start, but are excited for the 2020 season as they have a new age of youth on this year’s team.
“This is my twentieth year and this is the youngest that we’ve been and it’s actually brought a lot more juice to our team,” Sneed said. “The veterans are happy to have the younger guys playing and help teach them game in and game out. There’s been a lot of excitement just because of the youth.”
Lennox’s next game will be on June 5 as they will travel to Volga for a 7 p.m. first pitch with the Cormorants.