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Sandlot Series gives area Illinois baseball players a chance to play

Sandlot Series gives area Illinois baseball players a chance to play

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Eight area baseball teams from Illinois get the chance Monday and Tuesday to take the field after their seasons were wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Gateway Grizzlies are hosting two exhibition games each day at GCS Ballpark dubbed as the “Sandlot Series.”

Players will be representing their high schools teams but are not officially affiliated with their schools.

High school coaches are not involved, but many said they plan to be in attendance as spectators.

"I'm thrilled and I'll be there to watch the games," Freeburg coach Drew Gericke said. "I'm glad they can take the field one more time together with the rest of their seniors and juniors. I can't wait to watch them play."

GCS Ballpark will be limited to 20 percent capacity to follow the state's COVID-19 protocols for social distancing.

The series is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. Monday with Belleville West playing Gibault, followed by Edwardsville squaring off against Granite City at 7:35 p.m.

On Tuesday, Highland is scheduled to play Mascoutah at 4:30 p.m. with Belleville East taking on Freeburg in the finale at 7:35 p.m.

"I can't imagine being a father and not getting to see my daughter's last soccer game or my son's last baseball game," Grizzlies general manager Steve Gomric said. "This series will give parents a chance to have that memory."

Edwardsville won the Illinois Class 4A state title in 2019 and Gibault was the Class 1A runner-up.

Mascoutah won 20 or more games in four of the past five seasons, with three consecutive seasons of at least 25 wins, while Freeburg has posted seasons of 20 or more wins in three of the past five seasons.

"It was a good idea and I hope the kids have a good time," Belleville West coach Todd Baltz said. "I know the kids were really looking forward to the season and it gets them a chance to get a game together as a team."

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