Big 26 Baseball Classic canceled

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Thursday, April 23, 2020 | 11:48 AM


The Big 26 Baseball Classic, the annual summer all-star competition between rising high school juniors and seniors from Pennsylvania and Maryland, will not take place this year in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority made the announcement Thursday morning. The event, which includes a three-game series between the states, was to be July 23-26 at FNB Field in Harrisburg.

“Big 26 Baseball strives to give high school players, challenger participants and fans an exceptional and unique baseball experience each summer,” Gregg Cook, HHSE executive director, said in a statement.

“Due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainties before us, meeting those expectations and the high standards we hold for the event will not be possible. While the decision is hard on our hearts, it is made with the health and safety of everyone involved as our top priority.”

The cancellation includes the Buddy Program which involves interaction between the players and special needs children, teens and young adults at a picnic, a modified game and other activities during the week.

Each year, the teams are formed via scouted tryouts in Pennsylvania and Maryland from registration lists formed starting in early March.

The Pennsylvania western tryouts were slated for May 3 at Seton Hill University, and WPIAL products were expected to be among those selected to face Maryland in the July series. College coaches were set to attend the tryouts.

Freeport senior Jarrett Heilman and South Fayette junior Ryan McGuire represented the WPIAL last summer and helped the Pennsylvania team sweep the three-game set.

Heilman was at the heart of the PA pitching staff which collectively sported a 2.00 earned-run average for the three games and held the Maryland squad to a total of 10 runs.

McGuire contributed in the outfield and on offense where he collected a pair of hits in the series finale.

“We are hopeful that athletes will be able to enjoy the great game of baseball this summer,” Cook said.

“Sports have a healing quality that will be instrumental in bringing our families and communities together when the time is right.”

The Big 26 staff has begun plans for the 2021 event. Information, when it becomes available, will be posted at big26.com.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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