PHILADELPHIA – It wasn’t the way they planned.
As anticipation increased regarding their first-ever Inter-Academic League game on the brand-new Palaia turf field Tuesday afternoon, Penn Charter desperately wanted to make the most of the historic event.
The Quakers, however, were unable to muster much offense and struggled to keep Episcopal Academy’s offense off the scoreboard. The recipe resulted in an 8-2 defeat.
However, with nine league games remaining and a host of young players on the roster, the newness of Penn Charter’s new digs remained the paramount story.
“The coolest part about today was the older teams coming back and all the alumni,” said Penn Charter coach Justin Hanley. “They essentially built this field. The tradition is baked into this school academically and athletically, and to see those guys out here supporting our team and our staff is just incredible.
“It’s a great feeling; it’s a family. To see the hard work both on and off the field really kind of come to fruition and set the fruits of the labor with this place . . . it’s incredible. This is the nicest baseball facility that I’ve been around, not only the playing surface, but the amenities and the batting cages are second to none.”
Hanley added that it’s not as though the former baseball venue is miles away.
“The coolest part about our old field is that it was tucked up against the school,” said Hanley. “We’re still right under the bell tower, and you can feel that tradition over here even though we’re across the street now.”
Penn Charter standout centerfielder Sammy Siani made a diving snag to end the sixth inning and keep the deficit mildly manageable.
Although he will only experience manning center for four more league games, Siani is focusing on the present instead of the future, which will see him play at Duke University next year.
“It’s just great to represent Penn Charter and our community on such an incredible field,” said Siani. “We’re stoked to be able to play here. It’s bringing us together a little bit. It’s adding a whole fun aspect to the year, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Siani said he and his players couldn’t wait to return from Florida last month during spring break. Needless to say, every player was anxious to strap on his turf sneakers.
“We’re going to represent Penn Charter well and all the donors who helped make this possible as well,” said Siani. “We’ve been waiting for this all year. It’s all still a little new to us. We’re still trying to figure out the best angles and best spots.
“It’s a new field. Everybody has to get used to it. It’s kind of like an even game right now, but I think eventually as time comes, through practice and games, I think we will be just fine and it will turn into a home-field advantage. It’s a long year. I think we will be just fine.”
(Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)