Kiski Area, Freeport baseball honor senior classes with one final matchup
Friday, July 24, 2020 | 11:20 PM
The Kiski Area and Freeport baseball seniors grew up playing against each other, and when the coronavirus pandemic canceled their final high school season earlier this year the two teams didn’t think they’d get an opportunity to face off again.
On Friday night at Freeport’s James E. Schwartz Memorial field, the senior classes got that last special opportunity.
“With this pandemic, I wasn’t really expecting to play much at all this summer,” Freeport senior Jarrett Heilman said. “But to play in front of your home crowd and to see my friends, family, and neighbors in the stands, it was good to see familiar faces and it’s always fun, win or lose, to play at your place in front of fans against people you’ve played your whole life.”
With an explosive night at the plate, the Cavaliers won 14-1 under the lights. Both teams in the playoff hunt in their respective summer leagues, and this game wasn’t about who won or lost. It was about honoring seniors who didn’t get an opportunity to play their final high school season.
Heilman, who is heading to Mercyhurst in the fall, only threw one pitch in the game and played multiple positions. Players acted as base coaches and had a lot of fun throughout the night as they shared laughs on the base paths. They were glad to play with their senior teammates one more time.
“It was awesome just to get back out here and play baseball with the last group of guys you played with in high school,” Kiski Area senior pitcher Ryan Rametta said. “It was definitely just a special feeling.”
Last year, with a team full of juniors, the Yellowjackets placed third in the WPIAL Class 3A tournament and earned their first PIAA tournament appearance in 21 years.
On Friday, the majority of Ed Carr’s starting lineup was seniors. Extra hitter Christian Hartman was the only junior to make the lineup. Carr couldn’t find the words for how special the night was, but he was glad he had the opportunity to honor his senior class.
“This was just a small glimpse of what we do during the regular season when we practice together,” Carr said. “We didn’t look like a shell of what we normally do, but it was important for us to get together and honor them, and I really felt that way.”
“I was really happy that the (Freeport International Baseball Invitational) was able to do this It was a classy move by them. What we did last year for the first time in 21 years, this group of guys was really special.”
Kiski Area was set to have a special season, as well. In Aaron Albert’s first year as coach, the Cavaliers made the playoffs with a special group of juniors leading the way.
“We both felt like we could’ve made deep runs with our senior classes,” Albert said. “That’s something they are not getting back. So, it’s good to give them these memories because there will always be the ‘what if’s.’ ”
After being honored under the lights on his homefield, in front of his hometown, Heilman said he never will forget his senior night, and he was glad they were able to celebrate.
“It’s all about the closure,” Heilman said. “We thought we were just going to be told no more season, no more games. But it’s been fun, and it was definitely emotional tonight with our friends. I can’t lie: I kind of shed a tear when we were shaking hands. So, it’s a special moment that I’ll hold close to my heart till the day I die.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .