The names of the teams, the coaches, players, rosters and the July 2 starting date have all been finalized for the inaugural short-season five-week Northern Virginia College Baseball League.
All that remains before first pitches are thrown are for the schedules of the eight-team league and field locations to be finished and secured in a summer competition that will include many local players.
The players will come from all college levels, including some rising freshmen.
“We thought we’d only get about four teams at first, but this league evolved quicker and bigger than we thought,” said league commissioner Mark Gjormand, who is also Madison High School’s head baseball coach. “We have eight great coaching staffs, some terrific players and we will have a lot of fan-friendly games.”
Gjormand’s comments, as well as those from the eight coaches and some players, came the night of May 27 during a “virtual”online announcement show on Zoom. Team rosters were revealed with a slideshow and league details explained. The rosters were chosen from a draft pool of 172 players.
The college league, run by the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League, was formed after many other traditional college summer leagues canceled in various areas because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gjormand, and league coaches Rob Hahne and Scott Rowland, saw a need for the league and began working on details in mid March.
“Rob Hahne powered this,” Gjormand said. “It’s been a hall of fame effort by him behind the scenes.”
Schedules and other information will be posted on the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League’s Website.
Once social distancing guidelines are established and games begin, each team will play 18 regular-season seven-inning contests, then each will qualify for the postseason tournament. There will be a pitch count to start of 50 pitches, then gradually expanded. Aluminum bats will be used.
An all-star game and home run derby at some point are possibilities.
“We really think a competition balance will be there,” said Hahne, who will coach the Sliders. “We think it is going to be an outstanding league and a great experience for these players who need a place to play locally.”
Flint Hill School graduate O’Kelly McWilliams, who plays for Wofford College, is one of those players.
“There was no doubt I wanted to play from the start and get back to baseball and enjoy this experience,” he said.
Madison High graduate Josh Gjormand plays for Division III Lynchburg University and will be in the league.
“It’s a great experience and opportunity to play baseball again and against some Division I guys and see how we do,” Josh Gjormand said.
“There will be a good mixture of different levels of college players,” Polymeropoulos said.
Many of the coaches are local high-school head coaches.
The names of the teams are the Bundt Cakes (coached by Lake Braddock High’s John Thomas), the Yard Dogs (coached by Woodgrove High’s Rusty Smith), the Rough Riders (coached by Flint Hill School’s Tom Verbanic), the Hot Wings (coached by South Lakes High’s Morgan Spencer), the Gators (coached by Centreville High’s Rowland), the Chili Dogs (coached by Paul VI Catholic High’s Billy Emerson) and the Sliders (coached by Westfield High’s Hahne).
Verbanic said he is happy just to get back to baseball, which he hasn’t coached since March 12 when the high-school seasons were canceled.
“It took me 30 seconds to say yes about this,” Verbanic said. “We’ll play in the street, we’ll play at midnight or 2 in the morning. It doesn’t matter. We look forward to being outside and doing something with a baseball.”
Said Emerson: “This is a great talent pool of players and we are all itching to get back on the fields.”
Spencer described his team as a unit that can swing the bat and has good pitching arms.
Rowland selected what he said are “a bunch of grinders” who like to compete and are good defensively.
Hahne likes his team’s depth and versatility and Thomas said he couldn’t be “more fired up to get back to baseball.”
College assistant coaches Jimmy Jackson of James Madison University and Brian Casey from the College of William and Mary have multiple players in the league. They watched the May 27 show and offered their support of the league.
“Our staff will be watching games,” Jackson said.
Added Casey: “Many players will take advantage of this opportunity.”
Local players and coaches from Prince William County are:
For the Sliders, Brody Mack (Potomac), Braden Mack (Potomac), Scott Morgan (Woodbridge), Griffin Boone (Forest Park)
For the Yard Dogs, Colby Vollmer (Battlefield)
For the Gators, Cameron Lane (Osbourn), Cole Snead (Battlefield)
For the Rough Riders, Ben Marotske (Hylton), Ethan Marotske (Hylton)
For the Night Owls, Jack Braley (Osbourn Park), Colgan’s Jared Dingus (Colgan), Dylan Flint (Osbourn), Garrett Riley (Colgan), Ethan Semones (Hylton). The Night Owls are coached by Hylton activities director Sal Colangelo. Colangelo is the long-time manager of the Cal Ripken League’s Bethesda Big Train. The Cal Ripken League cancelled its 2020 season because of the coronavirus.
For the Hot Wings, Chase Degrood (Patriot), Everett Catlett (Colgan)
For the Chili Dogs, Jed Barrett (Osbourn Park), Brady Harju (James Madison)
For the Bunt Cakes, Ben Thomas (Potomac)
The league will also include many players from Arlington, Great Falls, McLean, Oakton and Vienna.
Among them are Oakton High graduate Eric Lingebach; Madison High graduates Matt Howat; Clint Wheeler, Mason Satterfield, Chris Polymeropoulos, Zach Perkins, Ryan Murphy, Michael Schultz, Fitz Halloran and Kyle Novak; Flint Hill grads Justin Taylor, Teddy Reddington and Alex Walsh; Langley High’s Will Bean and Jack Hoeymans; Eddie Eisert and Jake Berry from Bishop O’Connell; Ben Koomey from Yorktown High; Marshall High’s Robert Kelley; Trey Haley who played at Washington-Lee; and McLean High’s Jack Slade, Drew Stieg and Anthony Farmakides.