Baseball was back in full swing last Thursday evening with youth teams practicing on the fields at B&PW Park around the Sealy High School baseball alumni game on Cheryl Mellenthin Field. A group of current players and recent graduates took on a team of former Sealy Tigers, many of whom were fresh off a coronavirus-shortened season themselves in the college ranks.
All of the players signed a waiver beforehand that acknowledged the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the game, but the virus did little to deter a crowd from forming for the return of competitive baseball albeit for one game only.
Organized by Sealy High School head baseball coach Dane Bennett, his hopes are for this year’s game to be the first of a regularly scheduled event moving forward.
“It was fun to see baseball back in Sealy. It’d be nice to have some of these guys around still but it was great,” Bennett said after the game. “These (older) guys came in and competed and got after it, they didn’t want to let the younger guys show them up just yet.”
After the group of active players tied things at two in the top of the fourth with a Garrett Redden RBI and capitalizing on a fielding error, the alumni put together a four-run fifth inning by taking advantage of a bases-loaded situation with Garret Zaskoda, Jarred Sherman and Clay Roberts all picking up RBI.
The alumni turned the pitching duties over to Zaskoda, a member of the Rice University pitching staff, and Devin Aguado, who had his second season at Coastal Bend College cut short, to close out the 6-2 win and secure bragging rights over a few of their former teammates.
Some of the alumni team members had not played on the same team together but had the confidence in their back pocket from the get-go according to the alumni head coach Will Cerny. A member of Sealy High’s Class of 2017, Cerny was planning on missing his junior year at Stephen F. Austin University due to a torn rotator cuff and labrum but will receive an extra year of eligibility following the coronavirus shutdown instead.
“I think when we first got the text message, that’s what kind of started our emotion about it, started getting us fired up to play again,” Cerny said. “It was nice to get back to it after being away from the game for so long, (COVID-19) took away our season at SFA, it took away all these guys’ seasons and the high schoolers too so to get together again and just play ball was awesome.”
Although Cerny wasn’t able to fully participate in the gameplay while rehabbing his shoulder from surgery in January, he took the role as coach and said he felt comfortable doing so.
“I’m planning on coaching so it was nice to get some experience in the field,” Cerny said. “I felt at home, my dad was a coach for 30 years so it’s kind of in my blood, something I want to do.”
Bennett took over as Sealy’s head baseball coach for the 2018 season and just missed Cerny’s senior campaign where the Tigers won three postseason series but Bennett understood it was important for the group of active players to see the history of success in the other dugout.
“These guys are the foundation of what we started,” Bennett said of members of the alumni team. “Devin and (Jared Kainer’s group) went two rounds deep, Arturo (Hernandez’s) group went three rounds deep so these guys were the foundation for what our program is today and what we expect every time we suit up.”
Cerny drew on his postseason experience and said the crowd on hand at Sealy’s B&PW Park for the Thursday night contest provided a playoff atmosphere but above all else, fun was had on the field.
“We all loved playing with each other, we had great times playing in Sealy so it was nice to come back together one back time,” Cerny said. “I grew up (playing on these fields), been here 21 years; born and bred in Sealy and I love every minute of it. I love Sealy baseball, it’s given me so many opportunities.”