CSBI players enjoy successful return to the field for the first time in nearly three months
Live sports made a brief return to the Brazos Valley with the Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was the first time for these college athletes from all over the country to play in a game in nearly three months.
The CSBI was held at Travis Field in Bryan. No fans were allowed to be in the stands, but for the players, this was more than just a handful of games. Texas A&M Corpus Christi Pitcher Henry Bird exclaimed, "It's been awesome. Finally getting out of the house, getting out of quarantine. Just getting back out on the field after our season got cut short, it was really upsetting for a lot of the guys here and a lot of people across the country. It was really great that we could finally get back after it."
Ruben Ibarra, an infielder from San Jose State, was Bird's teammate on Team Independence for the three-day tournament. He shared Bird's sentiment. "It means the world. I grew up loving this game since I was able to swing a bat. When my parents first got me a bat, I destroyed every ornament on the Christmas Tree. So my parents could tell baseball was my pride and joy... I just love the game of baseball more than any other game."
Central Connecticut State outfielder Chris Kanios especially enjoyed this week, as he understands this could be his final ride. "My senior year got cut short. My name's not going to get called in the draft. Right now I'm in the transfer portal. I don't have much interest right now. I'm hoping this weekend can help me out. You really never know when it's over, so right now for me, this probably might be the end. For me to get out here and end it on my terms and do it with a great group of guys was really fun."
The players agree that the lessons learned during the tournament will have lasting impacts. "Experience, perspective, more knowledge and depth of the game... There was a lot of things that I feel like I learned and grew maturely," explained Ibarra.
Central Connecticut State pitcher/outfielder Buddy Dewaine added, "(I gained) so much knowledge from all the coaches. Coach Sutton, LaTroy, every single coach here, they all helped me in some way whether it was on the mound or at the plate, even in the field."
CSBI participants began arriving Monday to get tested for COVID-19. They began practicing on Tuesday, and then the tournament was held Thursday-Saturday. Even though the athletes spent less than a week together, the memories made will be cherished forever.
"You get to meet a lot of new people from different cultures. You get to learn about them and you make friends for life," said Kanios. "There's a lot of kids here that I can call my brother now after just being here for five short days," Kanios added.
"It was amazing. We all want to be here. We all want to play. Our seasons all got taken away from us, so this was a surreal experience that I think we will all remember for the rest of our lives," Dewaine reflected. "I'm very thankful for the CSBI for inviting me and all these brothers that I met this weekend," finished Dewaine.
Team Liberty won the tournament 5-4 over Team Freedom in the championship game. Team Unity was the first team to be eliminated, and Team Independence lost in the semifinals in an overtime home run derby to Team Liberty.