MOREHEAD CITY — The last county high school baseball game took place March 11. It’s been a while, but some of those players will now be able to play in the best park in the area.
The Morehead City Marlins and Morehead City Parks and Recreation Department will put on a six-week fall season at Big Rock Stadium for those players at East Carteret, West Carteret and Croatan.
“This is what we should be doing, helping the community and promoting baseball,” Marlins owner Buddy Bengel said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone. We’re excited.”
Those interested in participating should visit www.mhcmarlins.com to sign up. There will be a $150 fee per player to cover costs.
There will be a pro-style workout day at Big Rock Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Those who take part will then be drafted. The plan is to have four teams with 12-15 players per team.
“Nobody will know who’s the first pick and who’s the last pick,” Bengel said. “It will all be confidentially done. We want to make sure the talent is evenly distributed. We want to make sure kids get the opportunity to play and get better.”
The 12-game season played by high school rules will run from Sept. 21 to Oct. 28 with games at 6 and 8 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday nights.
There may be a postseason, but that idea is still up in the air. Regulations stipulate high school coaches can’t be involved, so other coaches will be recruited to lead the teams.
Bengel said the Marlins and the Town of Morehead City have put on this collaborative effort, and thus far, the response has been great.
“We’ve had a lot of kids sign up already,” he said. “These kids haven’t played baseball since – gosh, they basically didn’t have any of their spring season.”
Croatan played five games, West had four and East played just two in mid-March before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the spring season.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association delayed fall competition, so there will be no prep sports until Nov. 16 when cross country and volleyball begin. Baseball season won’t start until April 26, and there will be just 12 games.
After going six months without playing county games in an official capacity, players will now get to suit up on Puck O’Neal Field at Big Rock Stadium, which is owned by the Town of Morehead City.
“It’ll be free admission,” Bengel said. “This is for the kids. It’s the town’s park, so it’s an open park. People are welcome to come and watch. The stadium hasn’t been used all year, so it’s an opportunity to get out and play some baseball.”
The Marlins announced in June they had suspended operations for the 2020 season due the pandemic. Morehead City was coming off back-to-back Coastal Plain League championship seasons.
Only seven of the CPL’s 15 teams participated this summer with the Macon Bacon defeating the Savannah Bananas two weeks ago in the championship game.
Some light concessions will be offered at Big Rock Stadium for the high school games, such as drinks, popcorn and chips, and for those who can’t make it to the park, Bengel said he hopes to live stream games on the Marlins’ Facebook page.