It had been a while since the ValleyCats were able to actually play baseball at “The Joe.” After Saturday marked the first home rainout of the season, the weather on Tuesday’s Irish Night was imported straight from Ireland, forcing another postponement.
But the ‘Cats finally took the field on Wednesday, playing a doubleheader that kicked off a stretch of five games in three days as they look to make up ground in the Stedler Division. The theme was Bat Boy Appreciation Night, which included a bobblehead giveaway of longtime bat boy Charles Constantino.
Game 1 was a fast-paced pitcher’s duel that included a safety squeeze and ended with a walk-off home run from newcomer Chris Epps. Prior to receiving a shaving cream pie in the face, Epps told the crowd that this was his first walk-off home run at any level during his South End Tavern Player of the Game interview.
As part of Bat Boy Appreciation Night a new on-field contest was debuted that put fans through the trials of a bat boy. They raced to see who could pick up balls, bats and helmets, with the winner earning a nod from Charlie himself.
In between games, Charlie was recognized on the field and with a video board tribute. Current and former ValleyCats players joined the staff in saying thank you to Charlie as he prepares to work his 300th game with the team. It was amazing to see guys in the big leagues like J.D. Martinez, Brian Bogusevic and Bud Norris, who still remember Charlie.
Following the video presentation, Charlie reversed his normal pre-game role and threw out our final ceremonial first pitch to Ryan McCurdy. Charlie was also give the night off from catching the other first pitches, as fellow bat boy Alex Koppel handled those duties.
Game 2 was tight for a while but Mahoning Valley pulled away late to secure a 4-0 victory. After the game, Charlie and Alex signed autographs to cap off their big night. To Charlie, Alex, and bat boys everywhere, thank you for your dedication and hard work.
The team returns to action tomorrow night, finishing off its series against Mahoning Valley. Kids get in to Thursday’s game for free, courtesy of GE, and there will be post-game fireworks. Come on out and join the fun!