Mount Gambier baseball league prepared for national baseball series

ON THE JOB: Baseball Australia’s Michael Crooks joins Mount Gambier and District Baseball League’s David Chuck and Bruce Morale as they prepare to upgrade the pitching mound for this weekend’s four-game ABL series at Blue Lake Sports Park between Adelaide Bite and Auckland Tuatara. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

WITH the Australian Baseball League four-game series nearly upon us, preparation is almost complete to host the event at Mount Gambier’s iconic Blue Lake Sports Park venue.

The series, which will see the Adelaide Bite lock horns with Auckland Tuatara, kicks off on Friday with a game under lights, leaving just two full days to ensure the facility is up to scratch for the three-day competition.

Everything is well on track for that to be the case, with Mount Gambier and District Baseball League’s Bruce Morale leading the charge at the head of working bees over the last two months.

He said to host a national event such as this is an honour and something he hopes can lead to further opportunities down the track.

“Sport in general is finding it difficult to get numbers, so to have something like this come into the town, it really has a way of promoting the sport that we love,” Morale said.

“It has been a while since we have had an event like this baseball wise, so to have this here this year is going to be fantastic.”

There have been many hours spent preparing the pitch for the event, after MGDBA found out it would host the series two months ago.

“Every Thursday we are out there, which is our general maintenance and working bee days, but there has been extras as well,” Morale said.

“We had a working bee a few Sundays ago where we had 30-odd people here and a huge amount of work was accomplished.

“The amount of work done by council has been fantastic as well, they have done a lot of upgrades.

“There have been a lot of hours put in to getting this ready.”

Morale said there has been “great support” from within the baseball community and he hopes to see a large attendance of supporters over the weekend.

“They have been really keen and have embraced the idea of having this series down here,” he said.

“We are hoping we get a massive turnout for it.

“Bringing a national sport into the region is fantastic.

“We are a sporting town and people love their sports.”

In terms of what has been done to prepare for the series, many hours have been spent upgrading and refurbishing the pitch and surrounds to ensure it is in prime condition come Friday.

“Earlier this year we dug out all the cutouts before we knew we were having this series,” Morale said.

“We have done a lot of work in redoing those.

“The entire outfield has been trimmed all the way around for the warning track to be upgraded and tidied up and all new gravel has been put around (the pitch).

“We have also had new pitching bullpens put in place and built new mounds for those.”

When speaking to The Border Watch yesterday, the pitching mound was in the process of an upgrade, undertaken by Baseball Australia’s Michael Crooks.

The home plate has also been upgraded and was dug out to add clay, with clay now added to the mound as well.

“The benefit we will get from the upgrades which have happened is something we will get to enjoy long after this series has gone,” Morale said.

“The upgrade of the batting cage as well is something that has been earmarked to do for a while and getting this here has helped push that along.”

Crooks, who is the general manager of development and governance at Baseball Australia, is in charge of redoing the pitching mound, as well as helping MGDBA meet all the field requirements before the series.

“There are some pretty strict rules in baseball on what the field dimensions look like,” he said.

“We want to make sure any time we are bringing in competition for the international players and for our league that everything is absolutely perfect.

“We go over the pitch with a fine-toothed comb.”

However, he was impressed by the standard of the facility and said most of the changes are just tweaks to ensure everything is perfect come game day.

“For a regional facility it is fantastic,” Crooks said.

“I have not been here in 20 years, but the memories of the good state of the facility are flooding back.

“It is in as good a state as when I was last here.”

With everything on schedule for a successful event, Morale said the efforts from MGDBA president Ben Green and event co-ordinator Michael Summers have been first class.

He also thanked Mount Gambier City Council for its help in upgrading the facilities, as well as all the volunteers who lightened the work load and Baseball Australia for providing the great opportunity.