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Gerstell hosts baseball scrimmage with Mt. Carmel to honor seniors

Gerstell Academy senior Chris Hagan rounds third base en route to scoring in the third inning of Wednesday's scrimmage between the Falcons and Our Lady of mount Carmel in Finksburg July 15, 2020.
Gerstell Academy senior Chris Hagan rounds third base en route to scoring in the third inning of Wednesday's scrimmage between the Falcons and Our Lady of mount Carmel in Finksburg July 15, 2020. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

FINKSBURG — Chris Hagan and Logan Satti got one more chance to put on their Gerstell Academy baseball uniforms, the same ones they wore during a league championship run one year ago.

This year didn’t go quite as planned for the Falcons, whose reign over the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association’s B Conference is still intact albeit in disappointing fashion. The coronavirus pandemic wiped out spring sports across the state in 2020, keeping Gerstell’s two seniors from playing out their high school baseball careers.

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Falcons coach Cap Poklemba was determined to help his veterans celebrate a proper send-off, as was Our Lady of Mount Carmel coach Mike Naunton. The rivals and friends put together a scrimmage that took place Wednesday, and before the game they recognized their seniors ― Hagan and Satti for the host Falcons, Alex McCoy and Connor Naunton for the Cougars.

“It’s great that our coaches gave us the opportunity to do this,” Satti said before the Falcons took the field. “Now we can end this quote-unquote season with a bang. We’ll just be able to go out there and play some ball.”

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Satti took the mound as Gerstell’s starting pitcher, and Hagan played third base before moving over to shortstop. Satti tossed two innings and had five strikeouts, then switched to first base.

Before the game, the seniors were saluted by teammates, family, and friends. A large crowd found spots at the top of the hill that sits above Gerstell’s field. Mike Naunton said one of Mount Carmel’s traditions for its seniors is to have a family member throw out a ceremonial first pitch to each player.

Hagan and Satti joined McCoy and Connor Naunton in front of the mound for a series of special tosses before the game started.

It wasn’t the real thing, but it was close.

The Falcons didn’t get a chance to defend their MIAA B championship from 2019. The league canceled the spring season in late April after some teams began March 3 but saw their schedules halted a few weeks later during a frustrating holding pattern.

“It sucked a little bit, not knowing whether you were going to get your senior season or not,” Hagan said. “It hurt ... it took a while to sink in, honestly. But at least we got to get in one more game, got to put this jersey on and this number on my back one more time and have fun with the guys.”

Gerstell won six of its final seven games in 2019 and capped the year by beating Boys’ Latin twice in two days to win the B Conference crown. The Falcons went 17-7, led by standout pitcher Reece Early. The Times Player of the Year graduated and headed off to the Naval Academy, but Poklemba returned a handful of talented players from his title team.

Hagan, who is bound for Delaware State, batted .478 last spring with 11 doubles and 35 RBIs, both of which led Carroll County. He earned Times first-team all-county status. Satti contributed as well, having pitched in the MIAA B final to help his team capture its first championship.

“If I was going to end it, the way it was, you can’t ask for a better ending than last year,” said Satti, who plans to play baseball at Lebanon Valley College.

Poklemba said he had visions of a modified “Senior Day” from the moment the season was canceled, and made sure to reach out to Mike Naunton to see if something could be worked up. Gerstell players last week received liability waivers and guidelines on how to approach the scrimmage, from social distance practices to the amount of people allowed near the playing field.

It meant one last game that resembled the 2020 season, and both coaches were happy to be involved.

“It was very important for [our] two guys, two guys who I look at as my own kids, and they’re great guys,” Poklemba said. “I’m just glad we could do it.”

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