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Summerville's field of dreams come true

Bears' baseball field improvements now complete, MLL play begins next week


Summerville coach Ricky Pinocchio talks about field improvements last fall. (Photo credit: Maggie Beck / Union Democrat.)
(Players help install netting around the soon-to-be graded infield last fall. Photo credit: Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
(Several inches of dirt were scraped from the infield to help level out the playing surface. Photo credit: Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
(Yuban coffee cans were once used to held hold the bases in place. Photo credit: Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
(Improvements to the ball field include new fence caps along the outfield wall. Courtesy photo)
(Snow blankets the field at Summerville High School earlier this year. Courtesy photo)
(New sod and sprinklers are now in place ahead of the new season, which begin next week. Courtesy photo)

As the first major wet weather system moved into the Mother Lode this week, Summerville’s baseball coach Ricky Pinocchio had one worry far from his mind - how well the high school’s baseball field would handle the rain.

After months of work, hundreds of man hours and an outpouring of support from the community, Pinocchio’s long list of field improvements is complete.

Three years of fundraising and a grant from the Summerville Bears foundation helped fund the project.

Work got underway last last summer to help repair drainage issues, a lumpy outfield, irrigation and more.

Rain used to puddle around

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As the first major wet weather system moved into the Mother Lode this week, Summerville’s baseball coach Ricky Pinocchio had one worry far from his mind - how well the high school’s baseball field would handle the rain.

After months of work, hundreds of man hours and an outpouring of support from the community, Pinocchio’s long list of field improvements is complete.

Three years of fundraising and a grant from the Summerville Bears foundation helped fund the project.

Work got underway last last summer to help repair drainage issues, a lumpy outfield, irrigation and more.

Rain used to puddle around the bases, stretching 20-feet at first base, Pinocchio said. And it would take days for the outfield to lose its overused sponge aesthetic.

“There would be actual water on the grass which is just kind of unheard of,” said Pinocchio.

Not anymore.

“It’s tons better,” he said. “The field is level now so it drains pretty well. It drains off faster and goes where it needs to go.”

Pinocchio, along with members of his family and with help from local businesses who donated equipment and materials, has completed an impressive array of improvements.

The project started with scraping a three-inch layer of of dirt and grass, enough to fill seven dump trucks. Oleson Excavating and Grading donated their services.

New sprinklers were installed. And sod. Fresh dirt to smooth out the base paths.

The dugouts have been painted, along with the equipment shed.

New black netting was installed around the outfield fence, emblazoned with Summerville Baseball in the school’s signature script. It’s topped with Bears’ orange fence capping.

“It looks really good,” said Pinocchio.

Each year the team sells advertising banners to help raise money for various expenses. This year Pinocchio expect they’ll see the highest sales yet.

“The community has really showed its support,” he said. “There are so many people looking to give back to the school and to the kids. It’s been really nice to see.”

This year’s Bears’ roster includes 18 players.

“This team has a lot of really good athletes, two and three-sport athletes,” said Pinocchio.

They’re 2-1 in the pre-season.

In their most recent outing they beat Riverbank 10-3.

“Every year i go in with the same expectation that I want this team to do the best that they can and maximize their potential,” said Pinocchio.

The Bears are shooting for the league title and beyond, he said.

They’ve got another pre-season game at Ripon Christian Monday at 3:30 p.m.

League play begins with a home game against Amador Friday, March 9 at 3:30.

But Pinocchio says those game will likely be moved as more rain is in the forecast.

In addition to all that’s new, the team did hang on to a few items from the old field.

Pinocchio pulled out the old pitching rubber, home base and the cement-filled Yuban can once used to hold second base in place. They’re set up near the team’s equipment shed.

“They’re like a shrine,” said Pinocchio.

And likely good for a healthy dose of inspiration.