Ryan Salvaggio ‘20
After having eight players show up for a Saturday 12:00 p.m. showdown against the University of Maine, the Merrimack College Club Baseball team was faced with a major dilemma with the future of the program hanging in the balance.
With the roster constructed and travel arrangements made, the only thing the players going had to worry about was how they would kill time during their three and a half hour drive to Hampden, Maine. Or so they thought, as players and team captain Pat McAvoy, a senior, gathered in the Sakowich parking lot around 8:30 a.m. it became more apparent as time went on that a problem was looming.
Around 8:45 a.m. that morning, it was confirmed that not only would the club team be without a campus van to ride in due to a scheduling mishap, but also they would be a man down, due to a last minute sick call.
With this information in mind, and the inability to go due to his work schedule, McAvoy knew the consequences that would come if his team forfeited this game. “Sadly, I can’t make games on Saturdays because of my work schedule, so when one of our teammates emailed saying he couldn’t make it and we risked forfeiting, I was nervous.”
Forfeiting the game would result in a one year suspension of the program, something that McAvoy did not want to see happen. “I knew that even if we forfeited it wouldn’t affect me because of graduation, but I felt awful because I didn’t want to play a role in taking the opportunity away from future students.”
With the information of a possible league suspension in mind, it was up to the remaining eight players to decide if they would go, ultimately saving or dooming the program. After a lengthy discussion centering around if it was worth it to travel so long and far with only eight players, a vote was taken to decide who wanted to and didn’t want to go. The results ended up being five in favor of going, and three against, meaning that the team was off to Hampden on a mission to save the club baseball program.
Even though most of the players that wanted to go in order to keep the program alive had their own desires to continue playing at heart, that mindset of ‘making sure others can play later on’ also factored into their decisions.
Outfielder Justin Bettencourt, a junior at Merrimack, explained, “I think that club baseball is extremely important to have at Merrimack. It’s a great way for first year students to meet people and make friends. Not everyone loves the ‘party culture’ of college, some need a way to spend their weekends doing something they enjoy.”
When asked about his club baseball experiences, Bettencourt took a personal approach. “If we decided not to go then my last year at Merrimack wouldn’t be everything I hoped it would be. Spending weekends playing the sport I love with great friends/teammates is what makes my Merrimack experience that much better!”
Rookie infielder John Tuttle, who is one of the few freshman on this years team was also asked what it would have meant to him if the team had decided not to go to the game. Tuttle , dealing in longevity said, “I would’ve been sad if the program had gotten cut due to us not going because I have three years left in the program.”
When asked to give his take on why he wanted to go, Tuttle again looked to the future: “Knowing how I wanted to be a part of it this year, I knew kids coming in next year would as well. Hearing that if we didn’t go it would take away the future of club baseball for the future kids coming in, I knew we had to go to save it.”
After making the three and a half hour trek, Merrimack ended up losing their battle with UMaine 7-2. In the end though, the score did not really matter as the bigger goal of the day had been accomplished, Merrimack College Club Baseball had been saved and lived to fight another year.