|Pittsfield Suns Return Saturday Night For Sixth Season|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
02:12AM / Friday, June 02, 2017
|The Futures Collegiate Baseball League team will take to the field Saturday night.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Suns General Manager Kristen Huss says the ballclub has found the formula for success and is continuing to improve it.
The Futures Collegiate Baseball League team will call Wahconah Park home for the sixth consecutive summer. The home opener is Saturday night and Huss said each year the organization's attendance numbers have been climbing. This year, she hopes to build on that and has an array of special events and activities scheduled.
"We're going into our sixth season. We have four firework nights. We have a jersey giveaway which is modeled after A League of Their Own jerseys because it is their 25th anniversary. We are doing a cap giveaway. Basically, we are just trying to build on what we've done the last few years and take it even more to the next level," Huss said.
"We recently started a kid's club, which is free for kids 14 and under to join and they get tickets to Sunday and Tuesday game. Every game is themed again so we have some of the favorites like every Thursday is throwback. We have superhero night. We have Christmas in July, princess/private night, Irish night, Easter Suns night, Halloween. So we have a lot of fun stuff planned."
She said so far the sales for season tickets, mini-packs, and single-game tickets are all ahead of last year's pace. The team's leadership has again spent the summer crafting the between inning games, scraping themed nights or events that weren't fan favorites, and thinking up new ways to enhance the ballpark experience.
"We take the more popular games, keep them and then we add. We are always adding, always changing. Right now we are planning all of our in-between inning contests," Huss said.
That includes a few additions to the food options. Huss said the menu will remain the same as last year, especially with some of the fan favorites, but is adding a new hash brown sandwich — two hash browns with macaroni and cheese and bacon in the middle — a "frankensun" — essentially a grilled cheese hot dog — and cotton candy.
The team plays 29 home games and 27 on the road, with a league of just nine teams now that the Torrington, Conn., team left the league. Huss said the Pittsfield schedule is "weekend heavy" with games nearly every Saturday night in July.
A notable difference in the schedule this year is a reduction in the number of nights fireworks will be held. Last year every Friday home game had fireworks on top of the special nights, so there was a total of eight or nine nights with fireworks. Now, that has been reduced to four, putting a greater emphasis on certain games instead of every weekend.
"We're in a neighborhood and there was pushback from residents about how many times we were doing fireworks," Huss said. "It is not necessarily we are taking something away, it is more accommodating more people."
Last season, the team ended up playing fairly late in the night often. That won't happen anymore as the league is now implementing a home run derby as a tie breaker.
"We will play a 10th inning for extra innings and starting in the 11th we are actually going to a home run derby format. It is three minutes, up to three players, and then if it is still tied we go two minutes up to two players. One minute, one player. If that still doesn't break it, each team gets a point," Huss said.
"Last year we had a lot of extra inning games. We have guys coming off of a full college season. Pitchers need to rest, you are losing arms. And it is keeping people's interest. For the fans staying here for four, five, six hours, it is rough. We had a lot of games that went into the 12th or 13th inning last year. It will be exciting for the fans and give the players a break."
The team itself will have some familiar faces. Alex Carusotto and Kevin Donati, both Pittsfield natives, are back on the roster. They're joined by three other players from last year's team, Conor Moriarty, Craig Lacey, and Jordan Muchin.
The players will have a new manager since former coach Tom Conley resigned in the offseason because of additional duties with his job at Harvard University. The Suns promoted Matt Gedman, who served as the team's assistant coach for the last two seasons, to manager. Gedman is a former first baseman who played in the Red Sox farm system.
Now the Parks Department has worked to ready the field and on Wednesday food deliveries were being made and the food booths were being set up. Huss said she's just waiting for yet another summer of Suns baseball, particularly for families.
"Our main goal is to provide family fun and entertainment at an affordable price. We want for people to be able to bring a family of four, a family of six out here and not break the bank," Huss said.