NOTE: THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE. SEE ALL D & C ARTICLES.
• April 27, 2013
City RCAC baseball teams rarely get the opportunity to play outside Rochester and a few surrounding counties. Unlike many of their suburban counterparts who regularly go to West Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, for city students overnight travel games are usually just too expensive. That’s what makes East’s road trip to Pittsburgh that much more impressive.
Last weekend, the East baseball team met with players and coaches from the University of Pittsburgh, defeated a top Pittsburgh city team, caught a Pirates game, and then watched Pitt beat Rutgers on a walk off home run.
To pay for the trip, East players, through hard work, personally fundraised at least $200 each. Since the RCSD does not cover travel costs more than 60 miles from Rochester, the team pursued a grant from the Greater Rochester Community Transportation Foundation to help defray expenses. Actually, Kyle Crandall, Head Coach now for twelve years, was not at all surprised by his squad’s determination to make the trip happen.
Fundamentally, East baseball is about much more than baseball. It is a dedicated and supportive year round community. I asked Coach Crandall to reflect upon the program philosophy—where grades are as important as groundballs—and the many ways students benefit. “Our program does things all year. We do not just play baseball together for three months in the spring. We monitor our players at every major grade check and counsel them through normal teen issues. The relationships that our coaches have with our players extend beyond the school day and the school year,” says Coach Crandall. Now that’s a winning strategy.
To get a real feel for the experience, watch the video and check out the trip summary as told by the students. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0rwSHhC0h0&feature=youtu.be
Friday, April 19 – The team left for the University of Pittsburgh at 7:25 AM from East High. They arrived at the Peterson Sports Complex where Danny Lopaze, Assistant Coach for the Pitt Panthers, greeted the players as they entered the complex. Senior Nate Brillian stated, “The locker room looked like a pro locker room. Then we got to walk on the turf field and got tips for hitting from someone who played professional baseball.” The East High team members were able to interact with the coaching staff and players from Pitt as they took batting practice. They were also instructed on what it takes to get admitted to college and play at the Division I level. The game against Rutgers was rained out so the team went out to dinner and then watched the movie “42” together as a team before heading to the hotel for the night.
Saturday, April 20 – After breakfast, the team headed to Langley Field on a crisp morning to play one of Pittsburgh’s top City baseball teams. The East High team beat a solid Brashear team 8-6. At the end of the game the players were treated to pizza by the Brashear Athletic Director. Senior Marlon Anderson noted, “We topped the night off by attending a MLB game between the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. The game was won by the Pirates 3-1.” Each player received an Andrew McCutcheon bobble head as they entered PNC Park.
Sunday, April 21 – The original schedule had the team leaving Pittsburgh by 10:00 AM. Everyone, including the bus driver, wanted to stay longer to see the University of Pitt play the series finale against Rutgers. The game started at noon and turned out to be a very memorable experience. Senior Devin Palozzi said, “Sunday we were able to see the college game that was rained out Friday. It was cool seeing all the guys we met on Friday play. Pitt ended the game in dramatic fashion with a 3-run walk-off homerun. It was a great cap to a great weekend.” The team returned to Rochester at 8:00 PM.
The weekend may have ended but the relationships already forged grew deeper. Junior Triston Dunlap stated, “On our trip to Pittsburgh I realized that we are not only a baseball team, we are a family.” Likewise, Nate Brillian said, “This trip is one that we will always remember. It not only solidified us as a team but as a family. That’s what East baseball is. It’s a family.” What baseball loving young man would not want to be a part of a program like this?
No wonder the East baseball program has graduated 83% of its players over the past 12 years. Making city schools better one pitch at a time.