Regardless the sport, summer is about getting better for the upcoming season.
Martins Ferry's baseball team is already working on improving itself for the 2013 campaign.
Head coach Anthony Reasbeck realized that if his team was going to begin to assert itself in the Buckeye 8 and OVAC, it needed to get better.
MARTINS FERRY’S Brennan Baire tries to complete a double play during action from Thursday’s Beast of the East tournament at Purple Rider Field. The Rider Colts split a pair of 16-and-under games. Action continues high atop the Purple City today.
And since the OHSAA allows 10 days of coaching contact in the offseason, Reasbeck decided to spend four of those days and enter the Purple Riders into the giant and grueling Beast of the East Baseball Tournament.
The Purple Riders finished the first day with a 1-1 record, falling in their opener to a team from Niagra Falls, 17-8 before rebounding for a 12-2 victory against the Ohio Steelers, who are based in Akron.
"We're not real concerned with wins and losses right now," Reasbeck said. "We're trying to get better and with the level of competiton we're facing in this tournament, we don't have any choice but to get better."
The Riders had all sorts of ups and downs during the high school season before having their season come to an end to Monroe Central in the Division III sectional.
Reasbeck is trying to instill in his players that better players don't happen from March until May. It's in the summer when high school athletes make their biggest improvements. And how do they do that? By playing, of course.
"The summertime is when you get better," Reasbeck said. "These guys are busting their butts in every sports, whether they're down at the football field, playing summer basketball and coming to play in this. Playing is the name of the game, and this is what you have to do to be successful."
For the most part, Reasbeck trotted out his entire high school starting lineup Thursday afternoon. However, he was short a few key players and Tyler Strama, who had a pair of doubles in the Ferry victory, will miss the remainder of the tournament because he plays with St. C. Legion, which is competing in an event in Cambridge.
"We're really young," Reasbeck said. "I am really trying to groom these younger guys because our season is probably going to depend on them. If they can give us anything, I really think we can be competitive since we're only going to have three seniors."
How Ferry will fare the rest of the weekend in this event remains to be seen. Pitching depth is the key when you're logging four consecutive doubleheaders, but Reasbeck's top pitchers most likely won't take the bump because of their other tournaments.
"We're looking for a three and a four pitcher, so some of these younger kids are auditioning for those roles," Reasbeck said.
Ferry was scheduled to play at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.today against the Steel City Pirates, who are based in the South Hills area, and the Pittsburgh All-Stars. They play at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday's schedule is determined by their finish in the pool.
"I am really trying to explain to the kids that we're working on things," Reasbeck said. "The teams we're playing have the best guys from New York, the best guys from Pittsburgh and we've got the best guys from Martins Ferry and putting them together, so we're kind of behind the 8-ball already. But, this is how we're going to get better."
In the Ferry loss, talented second baseman Brendan Baire had two singles. Strama doubled in a run. Seth Scott had two-run double and a single.
The Riders' second outing, Lucas Lloyd earned the pitching win. Robert Vargo had a double and a single, while Marcus Sutton had a double and a single.
"I want our guys to get better," Reasbeck said. "This is a big weekend for us to get better."
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