Lefties’ Damiano Palmegani, center, gets caught in a rundown between second and third as Bellingham second baseman Mason Margenco, left, looks at the toss from shortstop Collin Burns in the bottom of the third in June 2019 at Port Angeles Civic Field. Palmegani was forced out on the play. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Lefties’ Damiano Palmegani, center, gets caught in a rundown between second and third as Bellingham second baseman Mason Margenco, left, looks at the toss from shortstop Collin Burns in the bottom of the third in June 2019 at Port Angeles Civic Field. Palmegani was forced out on the play. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

LEFTIES: Baseball team returning to Civic Field on Tuesday after hiatus

Team will feature Pac-12, Big Ten, WCC players; Host families still needed

PORT ANGELES — After a COVID-induced hiatus, the Port Angeles Lefties are a go for returning to Civic Field beginning Tuesday for a full 63-game season.

The Lefties return for their fifth year and fourth season on the field. They are part of the West Coast League, a wooden bat league modeled after similar leagues in Minnesota and Cape Cod that give elite college baseball prospects the opportunity to play during the summer and the opportunity to hit with a wooden bat.

The WCL totally shut down last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league is back this year, albeit with the Canadian team — Victoria, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Kamloops and Edmonton — which are forgoing the 2021 season. Three of them — Nanaimo, Kamloops and Edmonton — just joined the WCL and have yet to play.

However, anticipating the Canadian teams would not be able to play, the WCL set up an alternate schedule, said Lefties owner Matt Acker. The Lefties will play from early June to mid-August with an especially full home season of 39 games at Civic Field. The WCL will also have a playoff.

“Canada really helped us out by pulling out in April,” Acker said.

That gave the rest of the WCL plenty of time to organize a schedule and make plans.

The Lefties, who will feature a number of players from the Pac-12 and Big 10, will play WCL games with Corvallis, Bellingham, Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Yakima, Ridgefield, Cowlitz and Portland.

They will also host nonleague games with non-WCL teams such as Highline, Driveline Academy, the NW Honkers and Redmond. Some of those teams are from the Pacific International League.

Acker hopes that if the U.S.-Canada border is opened later this summer, the Lefties may be able to schedule a couple of exhibition games with Victoria and Nanaimo.

He also said the talent level with the remaining WCL and PIL teams is up this year as teams pick up a lot of talented college players who normally would have gone to the Canadian teams.

COVID rules

Seating will be divided into a vaccinated section and an unvaccinated section. Acker said the fully vaccinated section will be normal seating just like pre-pandemic.

“It will be life as normal,” he said.

The unvaccinated section will have social distancing and people will be 6 feet apart.

Acker stressed that people do not need to bring vaccination cards and that the Lefties will not be checking if people are vaccinated. The seating will operate purely on the honor system.

“We’re hoping people are truthful,” he said. “It’s going to be a safe environment where people feel comfortable.”

Players are also not required to be vaccinated, but are strongly encouraged to be.

Acker said if players are not vaccinated, they can’t sit in the dugout or travel with the team, so it’s very much in their interest to be vaccinated. Most players’ schools are requiring their players to be vaccinated, as well.

The Lefties will return with a beer garden and will offer baseball fare such as hot dogs, nachos and more. He said there will be a food truck to begin with featuring items such as chicken and waffles and funnel cakes, and he hopes the Lefties can have a food truck court later in the season with a variety of different foods offered, similar to what the Victoria HarbourCats do at their games.

“We’re going to start small in the first couple of series and then go from there,” Acker said.

Acker said the party deck may have to go to “pods” of small, isolated groups in order to meet COVID rules. He is expecting many of the rules for events will be loosened after June 30, so a lot of the rules to begin the season will only be in place for about four weeks. The party deck is likely to be fully open after June 30.

Host families needed

The Lefties are also scrambling for more host families. “We need four beds by Tuesday, and seven more beds by June 5,” Acker said.

He called the host families an integral part of the team who also get benefits such as free tickets to games. Anyone interested in being a host family should contact the Lefties at www.paleftiesbaseball.com/host-families.

Players

The Lefties will feature a number of players from Pac-12 schools such as Cal and UCLA, Big Ten schools such as Wisconsin and Purdue and West Coast Conference schools such as Saint Mary’s and University of San Diego. Players will also be coming from schools such as Tulane, Dixie State and the University of Santa Barbara.

Acker, who is coaching the team this year, said he will bring in players differently from past seasons. Position players will come in for most of the season, while pitchers will arrive in different groups because most pitchers are only allowed 25 innings during the summer.

So, rather than have pitchers only pitching a few innings a week over the entire season, he will bring in different groups of pitchers during different parts of the season.

Another player suiting up for the Lefties this season with be former Port Angeles Roughrider Ethan Flodstrom. Flodstrom, a big star for the Riders, missed out on his senior season because of the COVID pandemic and now plays for Tacoma Community College.

In past years, a few local kids have gotten a chance to play a handful of games with the Lefties. Acker said it’s possible some local kids might get in some games early in the season and late in the season.

Broadcast

Acker said the Lefties will have a “robust” broadcast this season with Rachelle Keend-Lynch from KSQM and Kyler McCaslin providing the play-by-play and color commentary on Facebook Live. To watch Lefties games, people can go to www.facebook.com/leftiesbaseball.

Schedule

The Lefties’ schedule begins at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday with a three-game nonleague series against the Highline Bears. All weekday games will begin at 6:35 p.m. except for a 1:35 p.m. kids’ day game on June 9. All Sunday games will begin at 1:35 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at https://tickets.paleftiesbaseball.com.

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