Michael Barnes of the SYAA Bronco Nationals All-Star squad pitches against a team from Western Branch on Saturday during the SYAA baseball invitational at Diamond Springs Park.
Michael Barnes of the SYAA Bronco Nationals All-Star squad pitches against a team from Western Branch on Saturday during the SYAA baseball invitational at Diamond Springs Park.

Suffolk hosts baseball all-stars

Published 7:38pm Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Suffolk Youth Athletic Association baseball invitational tournament has shined a light on its host city and its kids in a bigger way than ever before.

A total of 43 teams have been in action during the last few days at Diamond Springs Park, the most ever.

Hunter Hayden of the SYAA Bronco Nationals All-Star team awaits a pitch during pool play on Saturday in the SYAA baseball invitational. Moments later, Hayden singled off the pitcher, driving home two runs.
Hunter Hayden of the SYAA Bronco Nationals All-Star team awaits a pitch during pool play on Saturday in the SYAA baseball invitational. Moments later, Hayden singled off the pitcher, driving home two runs.

On Saturday, SYAA baseball/softball commissioner Darren Brown said the event “puts Suffolk on the map for baseball. You’ve got teams from Raleigh down to oceanfront Virginia Beach, all coming in here to play. You know a lot of them are going to visit the local stores and the shops and the eateries in the area. They’re out here all day today.”

The teams are all-star squads, showing the best their leagues have to offer. They range in age from 7 to 12, and come from a variety of

places including Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Smithfield, Windsor, Southampton/Sussex, and even Raleigh, N.C. Six teams are from Suffolk.

Brown explained how the event benefits the kids.

“It allows them to see a good assortment of the other all-star teams out of Pony (baseball), prior to them going into district play,” he said. “It gives them a better feel for where they stand up with the other organizations in the area.”

Each team at the SYAA invitational played three games of pool play between Thursday and Saturday. The top finishers face off in a semifinal today and then the championships follow later in the afternoon.

Earl Jones, head coach of the SYAA (Pinto) Super 7s All-stars, related the work the team has put forward thus far after having played in a Western Branch tourney last weekend.

“We’ve been practicing and playing for about three and a half weeks,” he said.

He cited the extra field time this tournament affords his players as vital, particularly at the Pinto age level.

“They’re the youngest group, so it gives them a chance to play people besides their own league, gives them a chance to see what teams are like at their age in other areas,” he said. “It gives them a chance to practice longer, to get more at-bats, to play more defensive outs.”

Jones also pointed out another way the tournament benefits the city.

“The cool thing for Suffolk is it gives Suffolk a chance to show off its facilities, to show that we can host a good tournament and do things right, which we’ve done a great job of,” he said.

SYAA has 10 fields open for playing, allowing 20 teams to be in action at any given time.

Chad Beechboard watched his son, Tyler Spencer play for the SYAA Bronco Nationals All-Star team on Saturday and noted a major benefit of the event.

“Being here, for us, is the good thing, instead of traveling all over the place,” he said. “The boys are proud of what they’ve accomplished, and I think it’s real good for them to be able to play a home-team advantage and do good and hopefully come out winners.”

Parent Alecia Gregg enjoys the fact that the invitational simply highlights baseball.

“I’ve been at SYAA for years, and I’ve got the two boys out here, and I love it,” she said. “Baseball is one of those all-time family fun (activities). You have to play baseball, right? If you’re in Suffolk, you have to play baseball.”

She had two sons playing, Quincy for the SYAA Bronco American All-Stars and Chauncey for Jones’ Super 7s.

“Between our two boys, we have six games,” she said. “We absolutely enjoy it.”

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