By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – The Hudson High School (HHS) varsity baseball team hosted their first “Youth Baseball Night” in partnership with Hudson Youth Baseball at the high school May 6. Later, as young baseball players watched, the Hawks secured a 6-5 win over Clinton High School in extra innings.
Before their game against the Clinton Gaels, Hudson coaches and players opened the first hour of their batting practice and pregame warmups to local kids playing for Hudson Youth Baseball. The event, which attracted roughly a dozen players from several youth teams, paired each youth player with varsity players who walked them through their hitting and fielding warmups.
“Hudson Youth Baseball gave us a lot when we were growing up,” said varsity pitcher and HHS senior Brian Twomey. “We have a lot of memories of playing against our friends there, so I think this is just us trying to give back and help out the next generation of baseball players.”
The varsity coaching staff, led by head coach Tim Reinhardt, first met with a group of coaches from Hudson Youth Baseball in December with the general goal of creating ties between the two programs.
That meeting helped produce a youth baseball clinic earlier this year and also helped set up the May 6 Youth Night event.
“What we want to do is keep the youth interested in baseball,” Reinhardt said. “Hudson is a great baseball town. There’s a very good youth baseball program here and we just want to keep having events that get kids excited about sticking with baseball.”
After warmups, many of the youth players lingered despite the threat of rain to watch the Hawks take on the Gaels. After letting an early lead slip through their fingers in the seventh inning, Hudson secured the win for its home crowd. They did so in the bottom of the eighth inning with a triple by Kenneth Sullivan and a walk-off bunt by Michael Chaves that scored Sullivan from third.
Though he said the game should not have come down to its final play, Twomey hoped the theatrics of the victory made an impact on the youth players watching from the bleachers.
“The way we won made it so tense that I think it really grabbed their attention [and showed] how awesome baseball actually is,” he said. “Down in the youth leagues, it can be easy for them to lose focus on what’s going on. For them to see baseball coming down to the end like that was pretty cool.”
As his team celebrated the win, Reinhardt deemed the first Youth Baseball Night at HHS an overall success. He was quick to say he and his fellow coaches will work to bring the event back in the future.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I had a great time. Our players had a great time and it looked like the youth kids had a great time.”