NEW BRITAIN - It wasnâ€™t a decision the New Britain PAL Legion baseball team wanted to make, but was forced to.
New Britain cancelled the rest of its season due to low participation numbers. The team ended 0-9 and had to forfeit its last four games due to not having enough players.
â€śWe were struggling to get nine guys on the field,â€ť New Britain head coach Mark Bernacki said. â€śObviously, at the end, we just couldnâ€™t field a starting roster.â€ť
At the beginning of the season, Bernacki had 14 players listed on his roster. By the end, that number was cut in half. Among the players who remained with the team were Francisco Alvarado, Devin Mercado, Sean Rivera, Miguel Sanchez, Isaac Burgos, Rufino Santiago and Jeremy Rondon.
â€śThe most disappointing part is the kids that stuck to the end, they donâ€™t have an easy opportunity to continue playing baseball this summer,â€ť Bernacki said.
Bernacki admitted he hasnâ€™t spoken to the players that left, but believes the teamâ€™s lack of success could have been a driving force in the playersâ€™ choice not to remain with the team. In three of the five games New Britain actually did play, it lost via the mercy rule.
â€śEspecially at this age, kids can be competitive,â€ť Bernacki said. â€śWe had a lot of kids from New Britain High School and Goodwin Tech. Those kids are used to being successful. If theyâ€™re not a part of successful experience, they struggle with it.â€ť
The lack of wins didnâ€™t come as a surprise to Bernacki, who admitted early in the season he was focused on development more than anything else.
â€śWe were relatively honest with ourselves on expectations as a coaching staff,â€ť Bernacki said. â€śWe knew it wasnâ€™t a fully loaded team [like] we have had in years past. We didnâ€™t have anyone returning back from college.â€ť
Bernacki has noticed the trend across New Britain with Legion, Babe Ruth and other local teams no longer playing. He said that in the coming months there will be a group of New Britain baseball advocates that will get together and discuss a wide variety of topics, including the diminishing participation of local players.
â€śWe are definitely feeling the pinch in New Britain,â€ť Bernacki said. â€śI donâ€™t have any solid idea as to what can be done for this, but Iâ€™m hopeful that we can come together and figure this out.â€ť
According to Bernacki, the group is still in its developmental stages and the members are yet to be decided, but he hopes to be involved in those talks when the time comes.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org