Mix-and-match Independent Players are ready for busy summer

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Thursday, June 25, 2020 | 3:27 PM


The Independent Players summer baseball team looks like it is going to have a busy summer.

“We’re playing about a 25-30 game schedule, so we’re playing almost every day,” said Players coach Jim Basilone, who has run the baseball team since 2000.

With a mixture of players from around the Pittsburgh area, Basilone has assembled a team that competes in the Western Pa. Baseball League and the Pittsburgh Prospect League, a league with several AAU teams.

The Players started 0-4, but things are starting to come together.

“They are trying to get to know each other. It’s kind of a mixed bag team. We have some Valley kids, some other kids from St. Joe’s, all over really. Freeport and some other places, too,” said Basilone, who also coaches the Valley varsity team. “Everything has been canceled so kids want to play.”

Basilone and his staff put together a hefty summer schedule that will give the players a lot of field time.

Seniors like St. Joseph first basemen and pitcher Tyler Wood, who is heading to Saint Vincent in the fall to play baseball, couldn’t be more excited to take the field after the long layoff.

“I was excited because before college and stuff I didn’t want to miss out on my last high school year and then go into college dry,” Wood said about hearing about the formation of the league. “It’s nice to finally be able to get to play again and get ready for college.”

The Western Pa. Baseball League, which was put together by umpires, has modified rules compared to normal summer baseball.

There isn’t a pitch count, there is no mandatory rest, no roster limit, free substitution and batting orders can include up to 12 players. Also, if the score is tied after seven innings, there will be one extra inning with a runner on third and no outs.

Basilone was happy for the kids to get back on the field and thinks the modified rules in the WPBL add a little fun.

“I enjoy those because it doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you can come in here and play,” Basilone said. “The team is getting better too, and that’s what it’s all about.”

He also said the modified rules have given everyone the chance to improve even more.

“There is no limited substitution, so I can move kids in and out all game and get them a lot of experience and a lot of at-bats,” Basilone said. “They are all getting the opportunity to get better, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Wood is starting to see the team come together as it gets accustomed to being back on the field.

“We’re not looking bad right now. There are just a couple little things that we have to put together,” Wood said. “We’ll be good, and we’ll be all on the same track. We’re pretty strong when it comes to pitching. We have a lot of pitchers who are able to throw pretty good, and our hitting is pretty decent, as well.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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