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PLAY BALL: U.P. Baseball League kicks off summer play with round-robin tournament

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Escanaba, Mich. (WJMN) – This weekend, nine baseball teams from across the U.P. Will converge on Delta County to face off in a round-robin tournament to kick off the U.P. Baseball League. Games will be played in Escanaba (Al Ness Field), Wells Township, and Gladstone through Sunday.

“You’re going to see some competitive baseball. A lot of these teams are topped out at their U-19 level. So, you’re seeing a lot of 18-19-year-old ball. You’re seeing a lot of guys that are committed to Concordia or UW- Oshkosh. So, you’re seeing almost like a prep before college kind of thing. The competition is going to be solid. All nine teams,” Said Paul Julian, the head coach for the Iron Mountain Golds.

Fans are welcome to attend the tournament. The league is taking extra precautions to ensure safety to spectators.

“We’re following the governor’s rules. So no event over 250 people. We’re also taking extra precautions. We’re not opening up concessions. We’re doing social distancing. Making sure we’re six feet, two arm lengths apart. We’re roping off the bleachers. Just doing everything we can to keep people safe. It’s a pretty safe event for fans as long as they’re practicing social distancing as well,” said Julian.

Player safety is also a top priority for the league. Teams have had to follow guidelines put in place by the M.H.S.A.A. leading up to the tournament.

“It’s clearly switched up. Every player needs to have his own helmet, his own gear, his own everything. We have to go through and sanitize everything. There’s just a lot of other things, we’ve got to keep the kid’s separated during practice. It sounds easy in baseball but we have to keep them not grouping up in the dugout and in the outfield. It seems like it’s improved them because they’re not grouping up anymore, they’re taking practice seriously, they’re getting their job done and heading home. I’ve seen a lot more improvement in them this year early on versus years in the past,” said Julian.

With early bragging rights on the line. The players are excited to be back on the diamond. Just over a month ago, they were unsure if they would get to play baseball at all this summer.

Well after thinking my high school career is over, I got to play legion, so that’s great. It’s great to get up on the field. Lots of great competition this year and we got some good teams, so we’re going to play some good ball,” said Jesse Julian, a catcher for the Golds.

“I’m actually surprised nine teams wanted to play. I’m happy about that. Play a bunch of teams, have fun, get on the field, get better for next season whether you’re a senior or not, if you’re playing in college or whatever. Just have fun.” added Blake Julian, who plays Pitcher & Shortstop for the Golds.

Games will continue Saturday and Sunday. The first round of games set to start at 1 pm ET Saturday with round 2 at 4 pm ET. For Sunday’s games, the first pitch is set for 11 am ET and the final games will be played at 2 pm eastern.

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